A federal judge has ruled that a map introduced as evidence during the recently completed espionage trial of Ronald W. Pelton will remain under court seal and not be made available to the public.
FBI agents used the map when they questioned Pelton in November about information on U.S. intelligence-gathering projects he had disclosed to Soviet KGB agents. One of the FBI agents testified that Pelton drew a circle on the map to indicate the location of a U.S. eavesdropping project he had divulged to the Soviets.
During the trial, several news organizations filed motions seeking access to the map. But U.S. District Court Judge Herbert F. Murray, who received a sealed affidavit from the government arguing that the map's release would damage national security, has ruled against its release.
Pelton, a former National Security Agency employe, was convicted on espionage charges Thursday.
One of the top secret NSA projects he was accused of disclosing to the Soviets, dubbed Project A during the trial, used equipment to eavesdrop on a Soviet communications link. Sources have told The Washington Post that the eavesdropping operation involved U.S. submarines in the Sea of Okhotsk, between the Kamchatka Peninsula and the eastern Soviet mainland.
William P. Crowell Jr., chief of the Soviet communications intelligence division at NSA, testified that the spot Pelton circled on the map is several hundred miles from the actual location of Project A. And another source told the Post that the spot is nearly 1,000 miles from Project A. However, Crowell testified that national security could have been damaged even if Pelton had given the Soviets the erroneous location he gave the FBI agents.