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CIA Official: Leaked Photos Did No Damage

October 16, 1985 GMT

BALTIMORE (AP) _ The publication of three photographs taken by a U.S. spy satellite ″had no bearing whatsoever″ on the Soviet Union’s knowledge of U.S. spy capabilities, a former CIA official testified Tuesday at an espionage trial.

Roland S. Inlow, who had coordinated U.S. intelligence activities, was a defense witness for Samuel Loring Morison, a Navy intelligence analyst charged with espionage for releasing classified photographs of the Soviet navy’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier under construction in the Black Sea in July 1984.

Morison also is accused of theft of the photos and theft of government documents that described a May 1984 explosion at Severomosk, the main ammunition depot for the Soviet Union’s Northern fleet.

Inlow, who retired in 1979 after 28 years with the CIA, said he helped design the KH-11 spy satellite that took the photos. As chairman of the Committee on Imagery Requirements and Explotation, Inlow was in charge of deciding where the satellite would be aimed on a given day.

When Inlow saw the published photographs in the Aug. 13, 1984, edition of Aviation Week, he testified that he assumed the government had released them.

″I was somewhat surprised at that (release of photos),″ Inlow said. ″But my reaction was much more ‘ho-hum’ than ‘Oh my God 3/8’

″The Soviet Union is very aware of the (KH-11) satellite and of its characteristics, its capabilities,″ he said.

Inlow said the satellite’s operating manual, prepared by his CIA office, was leaked to the Soviet Union in 1978 and provided enough information to allow the Soviets to prevent the United States from photographing the carrier.

William Kampiles, a CIA official, sold the manual to the Soviet Union. He was convicted of espionage and sentenced in 1978 to 40 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Young ruled the defense could not call news reporters to testify about information gleaned from U.S. spy satellites, which they received from government sources other than Morison. The judge said their testimony would be unfair to the prosecution because the reporters would not name their sources.

Jay Peterzell, a researcher and writer for the Center for National Security in Washington, showed the court 60 news stories dealing with the KH-11 spy satellite’s capabilities, launch dates, orbits and identification of targets. Peterzell testified that none of the stories named Morison as a source of the information.


Peterzell also displayed 30 articles dealing with the explosion at the Soviet Navy’s ammunition depot. The stories decribed the naval base, injuries to equipment and personnel and contained the fact that the United States used satellite reconnaissance to determine the damage, Peterzell testified, again saying Morison was not identified as a source of the information.

Morison, a part-time editor for the British military journal Jane’s Defence Weekly while working full-time at the Naval Intelligence Support Center in Suitland, has admitted giving the photographs to Jane’s but says he is innocent of espionage and theft.

The photographs were published by Jane’s on Aug. 11, 1984, and later distributed by The Associated Press and published in many newspapers and magazines.

Other defense witnesses agreed with Inlow in testimony Tuesday as the trial entered its second week.

Those witnesses said the quality of the photographs leaked by Morison was not as good as other photographs from the same satellite published in an Iranian student publication.

The students obtained the photos from a U.S. helicopter that crashed during a failed attempt to rescue 50 Americans being held hostage in Iran in 1980.