Don Lykkebak, attorney for embattled former astronaut Lisa Nowak, told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit that Nowak was not one of the two astronauts involved in a report this week indicating that NASA allowed astronauts to fly while intoxicated.
Lykkebak spoke exclusively to the ABC News Law & Justice Unit about his client and this week's report.
Nowak faces trial for allegedly assaulting a romantic rival, driving 977 miles to confront her in an Orlando airport parking lot.
ABC News: What was you reaction when you first heard the reports of drunken astronauts in space?
Lykkebak: Well, what bothered me about the reports is simply this: All of the news stories that I saw and even the one on ABC News linked my client Lisa Nowak with the reports of the astronauts flying impaired in space. What bothers me about that linkage is it's totally untrue. ... It's unfair and inaccurate as to Lisa Nowak. Ms. Nowak had absolutely nothing to do with that. She has not flown in space while impaired. She has not been identified as being one of those persons.
What makes the problem a little more complicated is [NASA] refuse[s] to reveal the names of the astronauts; they refuse to reveal when they flew. As a matter of fact, there is no evidence and no suggestion that alcohol was even involved in any way in the Feb. 5 episode for which she is now standing to answer in Orlando. So I want to set the record straight. I've been reluctant to speak about this case at any point. But as Lisa Nowak's advocate, I feel compelled to make a statement and the statement is she denies this completely. My client Lisa Nowak is not one of the two astronauts [implicated] the NASA report.
ABC News: Was your client [ever] drunk in space?
Lykkebak: Absolutely not. ... She did not fly impaired in space. Alcohol was never involved. She is not involved in this accusation. It's unfair that they make this accusation and the news media should links her to it by showing footage of her in her jail attire with her attorney at her first appearance. We would ask that the news media take this for what we say and that they stop reporting this story with the Lisa Nowak story and do so in the same breath. They're not the same story at all.
ABC News: With all due respect, the inquiry that brought this to light was initiated after your client's case. Don't you think that implies any connection?
Lykkebak: If they wanted to address Lisa Nowak's fitness for duty as an astronaut then they should have considered something along this line. The fact that healthy woman in December, mid-December 2006, weighed 127 pounds, and yet Feb. 5, 2007, about a month and a half later when she was arrested in Orlando, she was down to approximately 108 pounds -- in other words an approximate weight loss in a month and a half of 20 pounds. Now, you don't have to be a flight surgeon or a rocket scientist to realize that there is some serious health problem here. This coupled with personal stress and with sleep deprivation are maybe some of the signs that the NASA people who are entrusted with monitoring the health and wellbeing and fitness for duty of the astronauts should have been paying attention with reference to Lisa Nowak.
ABC News: What do you think it suggests about how NASA treats or takes care of its people?
Lykkebak: I can't comment on that, but it seems to me that somebody should have noticed that this woman had lost tremendous amount of weight in a very rapid period of time. I am somewhat concerned that she would have an approximately 20-pound weight loss in a month and a half and that someone at NASA would not take note of it and inquire and learn of the personal stress she was going under and learn of the sleep deprivation. Those three things together would alert any physician or any layperson, for that matter, to a severe health problem. ... I'm wondering what went wrong. I would think that they should be monitoring our astronauts a little closer than that. Maybe they have too many of them.
ABC News: How is Ms. Nowak doing?
Lykkebak: She's feeling better, obviously. I'm sure she's not pleased with the reporting. It continues to connect her to this NASA report of astronauts partying in space. ... It absolutely is not her, there's no evidence that it is her. It's unfair. It puts her in a bad light. It impacts our ability to pick a fair and impartial jury here in Orlando, to get a fair hearing. It jeopardizes basic due process, and I have to speak out and ask the media to cease and desist the unfair linkage of these two stories.
ABC News: Do you think there's any jurisdiction at this point where your client could get a fair trial?
Lykkebak: Well certainly with the passage of weeks and months some stories like this are forgotten, and I'm hopeful that unless the media continues to beat the drum that this one will be forgotten.
ABC News: What does she think of the fact that there is so much media attention around this case?
Lykkebak: Well, of course she's unfamiliar with the criminal justice system. This is the first time she's had any acquaintance with it. So she doesn't recognize, I don't think, that she's getting extraordinary treatment but I certainly do after 37 years in the criminal justice system.
ABC News: Do you think it's unfair that she's getting this much attention?
Lykkebak: Yes I do. I think she is being picked on because of who she is. I think she's being picked on because she, in fact, is a person who is an achiever, because she is someone who has really risked her life for her country and has been a hero. You know we love to take and put people on a pedestal only to tear them down, and that's what I feel is happening here. If she wasn't Lisa Nowak, astronaut, this case would be resolved much differently and much quicker.
ABC News: The diapers question. You've indicated a need to set the record straight in the past.
Lykkebak: She did not pull on a pair of adult diapers in Houston and drive non-stop to Orlando. ... It's not true. It's a lie. She didn't have that type of diaper in her car. She is the mother of two young twins and she had pull-on pampers that fit a three-year-old toddler in her car. Now, they don't fit on an adult.
ABC News: Some time ago, the prosecutor on the case released a transcript of your client being interviewed by the police. How did you feel about that release?
Lykkebak: Well, I would rather that it [had] not been released because I have issues before the court which will address the admissibility of that at trial.
ABC News: What do you think that transcript shows?
Lykkebak: It shows a young woman who was confused, who was upset, who had been without sleep for many, many hours, who was held in custody for approx 15 hours after her arrest before she was booked in -- a woman who was not permitted to consult with her attorney. That's what it shows.
ABC News: Fair to say she was not in the best mental state [after she drove to Orlando]?
Lykkebak: I think that's fair, yes.
Lara Setrakian and Allison Battey contributed to this report.