Prosecutors of accused spy Jerry Alfred Whitworth must turn over to the court FBI reports of interviews with potential witnesses to determine if the defense should be allowed to see them, a federal judge ruled in San Francisco yesterday.
Lawyers for Whitworth, a retired Navy communications specialist who is the remaining defendant in the Walker family spy ring, complained to U.S. District Judge John P. Vukasin Jr. that prosecutors were withholding interview reports normally given to the defense.
Vukasin ordered the reports turned over to him for review. Assistant U.S. Attorney William Farmer estimated that 50 reports were at issue, while defense lawyers said more than 250 could be relevant.
Whitworth, 46, is charged with passing sensitive Navy secrets to the Soviets through John Anthony Walker Jr., his close friend and former Navy colleague. Walker pleaded guilty in October to spying for the Soviets, and has agreed to testify against Whitworth.
Also yesterday, Vukasin postponed Whitworth's trial, scheduled for Feb. 10, until the following week because of a conflict with another trial before the judge.
Earlier this week, the government submitted a list of more than 300 potential witnesses, including John Walker; his son, Navy Seaman Michael Lance Walker, who also pleaded guilty to espionage; John Walker's brother, retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Arthur James Walker, who was convicted of espionage in August, and John Walker's ex-wife and daughter.
The defense submitted a list of about 60 potential witnesses, including Whitworth's wife, Brenda Reis; members of Walker's family, and the FBI agents who interviewed Whitworth at his Davis, Calif., home after John Walker's arrest.