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Lipka Offered To Kill Witness With Cyanide Gun, Papers Say

March 5, 1996

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A former Army clerk accused of spying for the Soviet Union offered to use a special cyanide gun to kill a witness threatening to expose him, prosecutors said Monday.

Robert Lipka also studied Russian at his Millersville home and once urged his ex-wife ``to do likewise, saying that if he were ever caught, the Russians would get him out,″ prosecutors said in a motion to deny bail.

Lipka, 50, is accused of selling U.S. secrets to the Soviets for $27,000 while working as a clerk at the National Security Agency in the 1960s. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage.

Lipka has been in prison since his Feb. 23 arrest. A bail hearing is scheduled Wednesday.

Prosecutors quoted from 1993 recorded conversations between Lipka and an undercover FBI agent calling himself ``Sergey Nikitin″ to argue that Lipka is a dangerous man who should not go free.

According to the motion, when the agent told Lipka about a witness who knew of Lipka’s work for the Russians, Lipka asked the agent: ``Do you have equipment, ah, that I can use to sanction?″

Nikitin asked, ``You mean to kill him?″ and Lipka said, ``Yeah,″ the motion says. Lipka later asked, ``Is it a situation where I, I can use, ah, Bandera-style sanction against him?″

Stepan Bandera, the head of the Organization of Ukraininan Nationalists, was killed in 1959 in what prosecutors called ``a classic KGB wet job″ _ a killing in which the assassin uses a spray gun that fires poison gas from a crushed cyanide tablet, inducing cardiac arrest in the victim. The killer must ingest a pill to protect himself before discharging the poison gas.

The motion also says that Lipka had studied the Russian language and intended to defect if his spying were uncovered. A search of Lipka’s home yielded several Russian books and tapes, the motion says.

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