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Soviets Bugged Typewriters In U.S. Embassy In Moscow With AM-Counterintelligence Bjt

October 8, 1986 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In the second such lapse since 1978, U.S. officials allowed Soviet agents to get hold of typewriters being shipped to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and to bug them electronically ″for years,″ the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday.

As a result, the panel said in a 141-page report on counterintelligence, ″For years, the Soviets were reading some of our most sensitive diplomatic correspondence, economic and political analyses, and other communications.″

Without giving a date for the second incident, the committee said the typewriters were shipped to the Soviet Union without any escort or guard through commercial firms. This allowed the Soviets access to them.

″The compromised typewriters were used in the embassy for a signficant period,″ the panel said.

However, in a story about 1 1/2 years ago, CBS-TV reported that the bugged typewriters were in use from 1982 until the bugging was uncovered in 1984.

Electronic devices have been available for years that can translate the sounds of a typewriter into text.

″What made this incident especially astonishing was that it occurred despite a similar discovery in 1978, when security officers found that a shipment of IBM Selectric typewriters destined for the U.S. Embassy had been shipped from Antwerp (Belgium) to Moscow by a Soviet trucking line,″ the report said.

In that instance, ″the potentially compromised equipment identified in 1978 was returned to the United States before being placed in service,″ the report said. Committee officials said they were barred from saying whether bugs actually were found in the typewriters that fell into Soviet hands in 1978.

″Unfortunately, the Soviets again gained access to several similar IBM machines that were not recognized for a substantial time as being compromised,″ the committee said.

The committee noted that this incident, which had been publicly acknowledged previously by the State Department in a little-noticed submission to Congress, was only the latest in a long series of technological spying efforts mounted against the embassy in Moscow.

In the 1950s, a replica of the Great Seal of the United States in the embassy was found to contain an audio device.

In the late 1970s, a Soviet antenna was found in the chimney of the chancery.

The committee recommended hightened spending on physicial security of embassies and a reduction of the ability of Soviet employees in the Moscow embassy and third-country nationals in all U.S. embassies to get access to areas where they might plant listening devices.