Walker Family Spy Ring
John Anthony Walker, a United States citizen, successfully spied on behalf of the Soviet KGB from 1967 to 1985. Walker employed friends and members of his family in the business of espionage, stealing secrets from U.S. Naval Intelligence and selling them to Soviet agents. During the course of his career, Walker compromised United States military communications ciphers, copied blueprints of Naval vessels and weapons, and stole secret documents.
In 1984, Walker's ex-wife, Barbara Crowley Walker, tipped FBI investigators to her husbands dealings with the Soviets. She told investigators that she suspected he did not work alone, and most likely relied on his brothers and a friend to steal government secrets.
The FBI conducted extensive surveillance of Walker for several months, trying to catch him in the act of leaving information at pre-arranged dead drop for a Soviet agent to retrieve. In April 1985, investigators learned of Walker's plans to leave documents at a dead drop site in Maryland, in exchange for a sizable cash payment to be picked up from another location. On May 19, 1985, FBI agents watched Walker leave a crumpled paper sack near a roadside utility pole. After Walker left the site to drive one hour north to receive his payment, agents seized the dead drop materials, 129 top secret Navy intelligence documents.
Walker then went to the second site to pick up the dead drop a Soviet agent left for him, $200,000 in cash. However, the bag containing the money was not at the site. After searching for nearly two hours, Walker left the drop site and checked into a local motel, worried that the FBI may have compromised the transaction. Walker was arrested outside his hotel room later the same night.
Despite warnings from his handlers in the KGB, Walker included personal letters and information in his last few dead drops. When the FBI seized Walker's last drop, the package contained not only the stolen secret documents but also a letter containing the names of other members of his spy ring. The names appeared in code, but FBI and CIA personnel readily identified the cryptonym. Walker's own writing implicated his son, Michael Lance Walker, a seaman stationed aboard the USS Nimitz . Michael Walker supplied his father with many of the documents, photographs, and code information that his father sold to Soviet agents. All 129 stolen documents in Walker's final dead drop were stolen by his son.
Walker's letters also noted the involvement of his older brother, Arthur Walker, in the activities of the spy ring. Arthur was a Navy veteran and a defense contractor, privy to information about weapons systems and ship and aircraft design.
Jerry Alfred Whitworth, Walker's best friend and a Navy communications specialist, operated in the spy ring for over ten years. Whitworth supplied Walker with most of the United States cipher and code information leaked to the Soviets.
Walker, his son, and Whitworth were tried on charges of espionage. Walker received life in prison, while Michael and Whitworth received lesser sentences. Walker's son, Michael, was released from prison in 2000.
Although Moscow celebrated Walker as one of their best recruits, Walker's arrest served as a catalyst for a widespread investigation of security procedures within the United States intelligence community. A year after Walker's arrest, investigators and intelligence officials exposed seven other suspected double agents operating against the United States.
█ FURTHER READING:
The Center for Counterintelligence and Security Studies. < http://www.cicentre.com > (April 2003).
Ames (Aldrich H.) Espionage Case
Dead Drop Spike
FBI (United States Federal Bureau of Investigation)
Hanssen (Robert) Espionage Case
KGB ( Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti , USSR Committee of State Security)
Russia, Intelligence and Security