CIA Spy Enlisted Son to Collect Espionage Debts, Feds Say
The son of a disgraced CIA agent convicted of funneling classified information to the Russians was indicted Thursday on allegations of helping his imprisoned father collect overdue bills for his dad’s nefarious activities.
The son, Nathaniel James Nicholson of Eugene, Oregon, traveled throughout the world using coded e-mail messages to plot meeting locations with the Russians, and received tens of thousands of dollars on behalf of his convicted spy father, Harold James Nicholson, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
The father, nicknamed “Batman,” is serving 23 years after pleading guilty a decade ago to furnishing the Russians “documents, photographic negatives and information relating to the national defense of the United States, with the intent and reason to believe that the same would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of the Russian Federation,” according to an FBI affidavit (.pdf). As part of the agent’s plea deal, the 58-year-old admitted that, during his 16-year tenure, he received $300,000 from the Russian Federation for supplying the identity of CIA operatives in Moscow, including their code names.
In 2006, according to court records and the FBI, the father enlisted his 24-year-old son, the youngest of three children, to collect his unpaid bills from the Russians. The son flew from Portland, Oregon, to numerous destinations, including San Francisco, Mexico City, Peru and Cyprus — bringing back tens of thousands of dollars in greenbacks. The money was dispersed to family members, according to court documents.
At one point, according to the authorities, the son returned to the United States from Peru in possession of a small notebook containing “clandestine communication instructions” on how to communicate in code via an internet e-mail account about future meetings with the Russians.
“The notebook also contained coded messages to be used by defendant Nathaniel James Nicholson when he met with the Russian Federation to confirm his identity,” according to court documents (.pdf).
Here is one of the coded messages the son, a pizza worker and community college student, is accused of sending to the Russians to confirm a Dec. 10, 2008, meeting at a TGI Friday’s in Cyprus:
SUBJECT LINE: Hola Nancy!
Hello Sweety! How are you? I’m good. Sorry for taking so long to write to you…you know how work is and all. Any7ways, things are good. It looks like I will still be able to go on that vacation! I will keep you updated on that though. I am very much looking forward to it, and to seeing you again! Well hon, I just thought I’d say “hi” since I had the time!
The authorities became suspicious after an inmate at the federal penitentiary in Sheridan, Oregon, tipped off the authorities that the convicted CIA agent was trying to contact the Russians. The authorities began to eavesdrop on the son’s cellphone, internet searches and e-mail, court records show. The son often visited his father in prison, the records say.
The son, charged with seven counts of money laundering and espionage-related charges, was expected to appear today in a Portland federal court. The father also faces similar accusations.
The one thing about the Russians was and “is” they always paid their debts to spies. Sure, they often used “Swallows” to entrap and blackmail prospective assets, but, if you were a walk in or initiated the contact, you would be paid. This case also goes to show that this guy worked for 16 years giving up secrets including our assets in Moscow. Just how he was not detected is a mystery to me as I am sure there were a slew of round ups in Russia post his passing the data.
Now, I am interested in the coded messages. I would like to take a peek at the rest of these emails. They must be using code words and not so much “codes” within the text in the sense of conventional codes. I in fact bolded and changed the font color of the “any7ways” as it was a stand out. In checking the keyboard layout as I type the word, it is not so easily mistyped to have a 7 in there so I think perhaps it was a key.
Well, the family that spies together…. Ends up in Federal pound me in the ass prison…
Harold James Nicholson Wikipedia entry