The father of an Australian accused by the United States of attempted espionage said Tuesday that if his son sold U.S. government secrets he acted out of greed, not need.
In an interview with an Australian television station, Claude Wispelaere said that if his son sold secrets, Â"It's not because he's in need of money, it's because of greed. The more money you have, the more you want. He was well paid in his job,Â" the father told Channel 7 TV in Melbourne.
If convicted, Wispelaere could face life in prison, a fine up to $250,000 or the death penalty.
FBI officials arrested Jean-Philippe Wispelaere on Saturday at Dulles International Airport outside Washington when he arrived from London for what he believed was another meeting with foreign spies.
Wispelaere, 28, was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on a single count of attempted espionage for selling top secret U.S. defense documents to undercover FBI agents.
Attorney-General Daryl Williams said Tuesday that Prime Minister John Howard has asked Bill Blick, inspector general of intelligence and security, to investigate Wispelaere's conduct.
U.S. officials say Wispelaere received $120,000 from undercover FBI agents in exchange for more than 713 classified U.S. documents last month and earlier this month. He worked for the Australian Defense Intelligence Organization from July 1998 to January 1999.
An Australian citizen, Wispelaere was cleared as an employee of Australian intelligence to view U.S. top-secret and sensitive information. The two countries share classified information under U.S.-Australian defense treaties.
Written By Michael J. Sniffen
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