'Incorrect' FBI Testimony Against Wen Ho Lee

ByABC News
August 18, 2000, 8:26 AM

A L B U Q U E R Q U E, N.M., Aug. 18 -- An FBI agent whose testimony lastDecember was a key in denying bail to a fired Los Alamos scientistaccused of downloading restricted files has acknowledged that someof his testimony was incorrect.

Attorney Mark Holscher, representing jailed scientist Wen HoLee, tried Thursday to impeach the earlier testimony of AgentRobert Messemer.

Messemer testified on two separate occasions last year that Leetold another scientist he wanted to use that scientists computerto print a resume. He acknowledged Thursday that Lee had told theother scientist he wished to download files.

My testimony was incorrect, Messemer said.

UnintentionalThe agent told U.S. District Judge James Parker he did notintentionally mislead the judge. He said it was an honest error andthat he did not believe it was a serious one.

Parker heard a second day of testimony in a defense effort toget Lee released on bail. The Taiwan-born American citizen, jailedsince December, is charged with 59 counts involving downloadingfiles from Los Alamos National Laboratory to unsecured computersand tape. He could face life in prison if convicted at trial,scheduled to begin Nov. 6.

At the end of the day, during which much of the testimony wasbehind closed doors, Parker asked the defense for the declarationsof property that 15 friends and family members of Lee offered toput up as bond. Holscher agreed. The offerings are worth about $2million.

The hearing is scheduled to resume today with more questioningof Messemer.

During Messemers testimony Thursday, the FBI agent alsoacknowledged Lee disclosed contacts with scientists from thePeoples Republic of China in a report to the lab about a 1986conference he attended.

Messemer insisted, however, that under questioning byauthorities Lee did not disclose the full scope of those contacts.

Messemer testified last year Lee initially told authorities onlyabout a Christmas card he had gotten from one Chinese scientist. Heacknowledged that Parker could have inferred from that testimonyLee was lying.