November 8, 2011 / 1:06 AM / 8 years ago

U.S. Army soldier charged with attempted espionage

ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - A U.S. Army specialist who was arrested at a military base in Alaska last month on suspicion of spying was formally charged on Monday with attempted espionage, an Army spokesman said.

U.S. Army Specialist William Colton Millay, who was taken into custody on October 28 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage on suspicion of espionage, is seen in this photograph provided by the Army to Reuters on November 7, 2011. Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bill Coppernoll said Millay, of Owensboro, Kentucky, was arrested following a joint espionage investigation conducted by the FBI and Army Counterintelligence special agents. REUTERS/U.S. Army/Handout

Specialist William Colton Millay, 22, was also charged with failing to obey regulations, issuing false statements, solicitation and communicating defense information, Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bill Coppernoll said in a written statement.

Coppernoll said Millay was accused of communicating and transmitting unclassified national defense information to an individual he believed was a foreign intelligence agent, with the intent to aid a foreign nation.

Coppernoll said last week that Millay, a military policeman, was caught before he could spread information that would damage national interests. No charges were expected against anyone else.

“I think we’re safe at this time with Millay,” he said.

The Army has not said which foreign nation Millay was suspected of attempting to spy for or what sensitive information he may have had access to.

Coppernoll has emphasized that his arrest was unrelated to the WikiLeaks case, in which Army Private Bradley Manning was charged with downloading classified information and passing some of it to WikiLeaks.

Millay, of Owensboro, Kentucky, was taken into custody in October at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage following a joint espionage investigation by the FBI and Army Counterintelligence special agents.

Coppernoll said Millay was charged with knowingly making false statements to Army Counterintelligence officials regarding the full scope of his attempts to contact foreign governments and the nature of information he disclosed.

He is also accused of soliciting a fellow service member to obtain classified information for the purpose of delivering it to an individual who Millay believed to be a foreign intelligence agent, Coppernoll said.

Millay is part of the 164th Military Police Company at Elmendorf-Richardson, a group known by its motto the “Arctic Enforcers.” The company deployed earlier this year to Afghanistan, but Millay was among a group of soldiers left behind.

Millay joined the Army in November of 2007 and served in Korea and Fort Stewart, Georgia, before being assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in may of 2011, Coppernoll said.

Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston

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