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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Accused Double Agent Looks to Dismiss Charges

Aired July 9, 2003 - 20:27   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Here in Los Angeles, one of the highest- profile spy cases in recent history is once again making headlines. Alleged double agent Katrina Leung is asking a judge to dismiss three of the espionage-related charges against her. She's accused of sharing unauthorized secret documents with the Chinese, something she denies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATRINA LEUNG, DEFENDANT: I love America. I have been and I am A very proud and loyal American. America's my home. And I cherish it. I know we will answer the charges and that my name will be cleared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Well, our next guest doesn't necessarily buy that story. He has written a cover story in the new issue of "The American Spectator." He says this case is one of the worst incidents of espionage in U.S. history. Bill Triplett is a former chief Republican counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a best-selling author. He joins us live from Washington.

I hope you can hear me, sir.

BILL TRIPLETT, "THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR": I certainly can.

ZAHN: Just as we started this interview, the helicopter decided to fly overhead.

First of all, try to describe to us tonight how it is that a Chinese-American businesswoman and former FBI informant could turn the U.S. Intelligence Committee inside out.

TRIPLETT: We really don't know.

The reality is that we don't know her background. We don't know what her real motivation is at all. In fact, after having been an agent for the United States, in theory, for 20 years, we probably know less now than we did when we started. She was born on the mainland. And some time when she was in her 20s, she came to the attention of the FBI. They decided to hire her to, in essence, spy on the Chinese KGB.

Now, the essence of the charges by the federal government is that she basically was with the other side and not with us. And that's very serious, because, if that's true, over 20 years, that would mean that the information that she provided us was tainted. And so we're going to have to go back and look at everything she provided to see whether it was useful information, whether it might have been so- called disinformation and that kind of thing. And that's about half of the problem.

ZAHN: One of the things that you have revealed in this piece is the fact that she had sexual relations with two top FBI agents, clearly breaking a rule in that intelligence community area. Why didn't that raise suspicions?

TRIPLETT: Well, for those of us who have been in this kind of business, when we looked at this case, we were astonished at how it had been mishandled by the FBI.

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