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November 2010


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Imprisoned CIA Officer Pleads Guilty to Espionage for 2nd Time in 13 Years

Harold James Nicholson/cia photo

By Glynnesha Taylor

Father and sons have different ways of bonding. Some go camping or fishing. Ex-CIA officer Harold J. Nicholson and his son chose a more novel way: they worked together in the espionage world with the Russians.

On Monday, Nicholson, 59, who is already serving a 23 year-plus year sentence after pleading guilty in 1997,  pleaded guilty again on Monday in Portland, Or., to espionage charges in a case involving his son and the Russians.  Authorities alleged that his son helped his imprisoned father collect some back payments from the Russians while passing on information.

Nicholson worked for the CIA for 16 years. Between June 1994 and November 16, 1996, authorities said he provided the Russian Federation documents, photographic negatives and information relating to the national defense of the United States,  according to Nicholson’s indictment.  He was arrested in November 1996 at Dulles Airport in Virginia while trying to board a plane to Zurich, Switzerland with classified documents.

In return, Nicholson received cash payments he used to pay credit car bills and other expenses, according to court papers. In 1997, he pleaded guilty and agreed to have no direct contact with any foreign government or through another party. His youngest son Nathaniel was 12 at the time.

Authorities say that agreement was broken when around June 2006 Nicholson’s  son Nathaniel J. Nicholson began communicating with the  Russian Federation on behalf of his father.

Over time, Nathaniel visited his father on numerous occasions at the federal prison in Sheridan, Or.,  to get information to pass on to the Russians.  Authorities alleged that Nathaniel met with representatives of the Russian Federation in San Francisco, Mexico City, Lima, Peru and Cyprus and passed on information and collected money for Nicholson’s past espionage activities.

Nicholson told Nathaniel to disperse the money to family members, which he did, authorities alleged.

Authorities alleged that Nicholson taught his son Nathaniel  how to communicate with the Russians in code via email and how to avoid detection by law enforcement.

Nathaniel and Nicholson must forfeit all funds and property involved in the money laundering.

“Harold Nicholson has admitted not only betraying his country again but also betraying his family by involving his son Nathaniel in his corrupt scheme to get more money for his past espionage activities,” U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton said in a statement.

Sean Joyce, Executive Assistant Director FBI National Security Division added:  “When he was hired by the CIA, Harold Nicholson took an oath to protect our nation’s security. He violated this oath.”

The son has pleaded guilty, cooperated with authorities and is set to be sentenced next month.

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