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Espionage ring comes to light: longtime spies for E. Germany

Three dedicated Marxists who maintained ties to East German Communists while they held jobs in and around government are charged with trying to pass Cold War secrets to the former East Germany.

Court papers describe ideologues who worked in secret for more than 20 years and who prosecutors think were motivated more by politics than money.The highest ranking of the three, former Pentagon lawyer Theresa Marie Squillacote, told an undercover agent that she became a spy "to support the progressive anti-imperialist movement," and that subverting the United States had been her true career for two decades, an FBI affidavit said.

As recently as last month, Squillacote interviewed for a White House job and hoped to work her way up to the "crown jewel," a job with the National Security Council, said Thomas Pickard, assistant director of the FBI's Washington field office.

The documents also make clear that the alleged espionage ring extended beyond the three, and officials said the investigation continues. The 200-page affidavit details how several people allegedly helped the three, but those people have not been arrested.

Two of the accused spies took civilian jobs with the military specifically to try to get their hands on sensitive information, the court papers say. The third was a longtime labor union worker in Washington.

The three, Squillacote, her husband and a friend of theirs, were arrested Saturday after telling undercover agents in a sting operation they had spied for East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the FBI and federal prosecutors said Monday.

If convicted, the trio faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.