Albuquerque TribuneThe Federation of American Scientists, founded by the first nuclear weapons scientists, is asking a federal judge in Albuquerque to release former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Wen Ho Lee from jail.
August 2, 2000
Scientists group asks judge to set bail and release LeeBy Lawrence Spohn
The organization's president, Henry C. Kelly, on Tuesday sent a letter to U.S. District Judge James A. Parker, urging Lee's release on bail pending trial.
Lee faces more than 50 allegations of computer security violations while he worked as a nuclear weapons code analyst at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
"Incredibly, Dr. Lee has now served over seven months under extraordinarily harsh prison conditions, although he has been convicted of no crime," Kelly wrote.
"This is hard to reconcile with our understanding of American justice," he added. "It seems more like the Red Queen's policy in 'Alice in Wonderland': 'Sentence first -- Verdict afterwards.'"
The letter was sent on behalf of the 2,500-member organization.
Kelly argued that "continued incarceration of Dr. Lee is indecent," and expressed the hope that Parker "will find that it is also contrary to law."
Kelly said that the Federation of American Scientists has "no independent knowledge of the facts of the case" but is concerned that "specifics of the allegations against Dr. Lee have shifted dramatically from when he was publicly portrayed last year as an alleged spy for the People's Republic of China to the present time when he is accused of computer security violations."
Parker is considering a defense motion to grant Lee's release on bond and is expected to hold a court hearing later this month.
Lee supporters are urging sympathizers to write Parker in support of Lee's release from jail in Santa Fe, where he has been held in solitary confinement with limited access to his family.
Government witnesses at a previous bail hearing testified that Lee remains a threat to national security.
But the Federation of American Scientists cited recent analysis by nuclear weapons experts, including a former Los Alamos lab director, who scoffed at the idea that Lee poses a threat to world nuclear stability.
"The hyperbolic claims that the 'global strategic balance' is somehow at issue in this case have been substantially rebutted by senior nuclear scientists," Kelly wrote Parker.
The federation was founded in 1945 by several of the disenchanted scientists who worked during World War II on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos to develop and test the first atomic bomb.
Among them was Cornell University nuclear physicist and astronomer Hans Bethe, who headed the bomb project's theoretical division and who earlier this month drafted a federation letter to President Clinton in opposition to a missile defense system.
Bethe is among 57 American Nobel laureates who serve on the federation's board of sponsors.
Since its founding, the federation has been an independent voice on science and technology issues, including nuclear weapons, arms control, biological weapons, missile defense systems and government secrecy.