U.S. Man Nabbed for Espionage

WASHINGTON -- A former U.S. Army employee of the super secret National Security Agency was arrested by the FBI on Friday in Pennsylvania on charges of spying for the former Soviet Union during the 1960s.


Robert Lipka, 50, who worked for the NSA from 1964 to 1967, was arrested at his home in Millersville, Pennsylvania, Justice Department spokesman John Russell said. FBI spokesman Bill Carter said Lipka was charged with transferring classified documents to the Soviet Union.


As an NSA employee, Lipka had access to intelligence communications and code-word level clearance, according to one justice official, who declined to be identified by name. Using receiving stations around the world and satellites, the NSA eavesdrops on foreign communications, breaks codes of foreign countries and creates the codes that secure U.S. communications.


Lipka allegedly passed the documents to the Soviets during the 1960s and was an Army enlisted man when he served at NSA, a Pentagon agency, according to a law enforcement official.


FBI spokeswoman Linda Vizi in Pennsylvania said Lipka spied for the KGB while he lived in Maryland. Vizi said Lipka was arrested at his Millersville home without incident.


There have been several major spy cases in the NSA's history, most recently the case of Ronald Pelton. He was convicted in 1986 of giving the Soviets information on a secret method of eavesdropping on Soviet submarines through undersea monitors. A senior justice official, requesting anonymity, said the Lipka case was not as big as Pelton's and other major cases in the 1960s at NSA.


In 1960, two NSA employees, Vernon Mitchell and William Martin, defected to the Soviet Union, where they were given asylum. They denied they were communists but said they left for moral and political reasons. Martin later married a Soviet woman.


Mitchell became a lecturer at Leningrad University and reportedly inquired once in 1978 at the U.S. consulate about the possibility of returning to the United States.


In 1962, a former NSA employee, Victor Hamilton, defected to the Soviet Union. He had been dismissed by NSA three years earlier after being diagnosed with signs of mental illness.