Espionage Charges Against Navy Petty Officer Daniel King Dropped

In an article entitled, “Tapes were key to freeing accused Elyria man,” Sabrina Eaton and Stephen Koff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer report on an apparent extreme case of polygraph abuse by the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service. On 9 March 2001, the U.S. Navy dropped espionage charges against Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel King. Following a failed polygraph examination, King had been subjected to abusive post-test interrogations lasting up to 19 hours and had allegedly confessed to having sent a computer disk with classified information to the Russian embassy. (For more on polygraph post-test interrogation, download the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute Interview and Interrogation Handbook, 5.3mb PDF.) Excerpt from Plain Dealer article:

WASHINGTON – The evidence that helped exonerate Daniel King was buried in a Navy Yard evidence locker and might never have been discovered if his military lawyer hadn’t been working on another case.

The video tapes show the Elyria petty officer sobbing after interrogations that lasted as long as 19 hours, and saying he would admit anything to stop the harassment, legal papers say. More than half a dozen audio and video tapes were discovered in February when Lt. Matthew Freedus visited a National [sic, correct “Naval”] Criminal Investigative Service evidence locker on a different matter and spotted tapes labeled with King’s name.

By then, King, a cryptographer, had been locked up for nearly 500 days on suspicion of espionage after confessing that he sent a computer disc containing national secrets to the Russian embassy.

On Friday, the Navy withdrew its accusations against King and released him from the brig at the Quantico Marine base. Yesterday, it gave King a month’s leave from his unit at the National Security Agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., while it processes papers that will grant him his 20-year retirement at full pension. King plans to return to his family in Ohio later this week.

“The evidence was unbelievably damaging to the prosecution, and we were never told these tapes existed,” said King’s lead defense lawyer, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. He wants both Congress and the military to investigate NCIS and other Navy officials involved in King’s case.

Earlier news articles on the King case:

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