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KKK Chief: Walker was Member of Klan and Recruited for the Group With PM-Norfolk Scene Bjt

June 11, 1985 GMT

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) _ John A. Walker Jr., the ex-Navy officer accused of running a family spy ring, once identified himself as the state organizer for the Ku Klux Klan and went on the radio to drum up support for the group, a former talk show host recalled.

A Klan official confirmed Monday that Walker had recruited for the group in the late 1970s and 1980. And an official of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith suggested that Walker may have used his membership in the right- wing hate group as a cover while selling secrets to the Soviet Union.

Jim Blair, the head of the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, said he has found a 1980 letter from Walker, addressed to former Imperial Wizard Bill Wilkinson, in which Walker said he had been unable to achieve his Klan recruiting goals.

Irwin Suall, director of fact-finding for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said his group was aware that Walker was active in recruiting sailors.

″I don’t know how many he succeeded in recruiting, but he had a great deal of contact with sailors in his capacity as Klan organizer,″ said Suall, whose group monitors Klan activity.

Blair refused to say what kind of recruiting Walker did. ″He didn’t accomplish anything,″ Blair said in a telephone interview from Alabama. ″I don’t see why the Klan should have its name drug through the mud by a communist spy.″

John Walker and his son Michael are being held in Baltimore on espionage charges. His brother, Arthur, of Virginia Beach, and Jerry A. Whitworth of Davis, Calif., also are being held on charges they were part of the ring.

Radio talk show host Debby Aiken said she interviewed Walker, who identified himself as the Virginia organizer for the Klan, on Nov. 29, 1979, on WNIS in Portsmouth. She said Walker showed up at the studios accompanied by two shotgun-toting bodyguards.

″Big, burly long-haired hippy-looking guys,″ Aiken said. ″He said they would patrol the woods around the station while he was on the air.″

Walker asked to be allowed on the show to raise interest in the group, said Aiken, who now works for WAVY-TV in Portsmouth. He told her he had just become state organizer and that membership in the area was weak, she said.

Aiken said she agreed to allow Walker to identify himself on the air only as ″John,″ for security reasons.

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Suall said the ADL has information that Walker was a member of the John Birch Society until at least 1982. The society however has only confirmed that Walker and his wife were members of the organization from 1964 to 1966.

Clifford Barker, the group’s representative in the Norfolk area, could not be reached at his residence despite numerous phone calls.

″I’m inclined to think that the Klan and Birch society affilitations were deliberately selected to provide cover for his Soviet spy operations,″ Suall said. ″One would not look in the KKK for a Soviet spy.″

In October 1979, Wilkinson, a longtime acquaintance of Walker’s, held a rally aimed at servicemen in the Norfolk area. The Navy prohibited sailors from taking part in the rally, and transferred two sailors who violated the order.

″The question is whether Walker was using his status as Klan organizer to pump active-duty sailors for information,″ Suall said.

Phillip Prince, a former Walker associate, said Walker’s private detective agency provided security for an appearance by Wilkinson in January 1982 at Virginia Wesleyan College.

Meanwhile, Walker’s detective agency has been bought out by his partner and will continue to operate, the partner said Monday.

Laurie Robinson, 27, said she bought the firm, Confidential Reports Inc., from Walker on June 4 after his court appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. She declined to reveal the price.