Report: US Scientists Face Espionage Threat Abroad

Published June 25th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A US government report detailed more than 75 incidents of foreign spies targeting US nuclear scientists traveling abroad, the Washington Post reported Sunday. 

The report drafted by the General Accounting Office, said foreign agents had bugged the scientists' hotel rooms, rifled through their personal belongings and offered them sexual favors -- all in the hope of procuring classified US military secrets. 

The report blames the Energy Department for underestimating threats posed by travel to non-sensitive countries such as Britain and France, and recommends that counter-intelligence officials review and approve all foreign travel. 

The report comes in the wake of several highly-publicized security lapses at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which the Energy Department oversees.  

The most serious reported lapse was came to light earlier this month, when officials revealed the disappearance of two computer hard drives containing nuclear weapons secrets from the Los Alamos laboratory. The hard drives later were found behind an office copying machine. 

According to the GAO report, which scheduled for release this week, one US scientist traveling to a "sensitive" country reported that he was propositioned every night by prostitutes.  

Another scientist admitted to "extensive sexual contact with women from the host country and another 'sensitive' country while on official foreign travel," the report says. 

"This included a prostitute, a waitress and two female employees at the facility where he was visiting," the Post said, quoting the report. 

Edward Curran, the department's counterintelligence chief, told the daily his staff is working to shore up security. 

"We all know we're being targeted. This is a technology-rich environment. And we're trying to do something about it," he said -- WASHINGTON (AFP) 


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