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Prosecution lists targets in N-secret spying probe

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LOS ANGELES — Federal prosecutors Thursday identified Australia, Switzerland, China and several other countries as some of the nations that a scientist accused of security breaches at the Los Alamos National Laboratory might have been trying to assist.

Lawyers for the scientist, Wen Ho Lee, ridiculed some list entries. "These are not countries which anyone other than the prosecutors have identified as presenting any kind of nuclear threat to the United States," Mark Holscher, one of the lawyers, said.

But the filing, which came only after U.S. District Judge James A. Parker ordered it, reinforced a government theory that Lee might have improperly downloaded the trove of secret weapons data because he wanted to enhance his job prospects with a foreign agency after laboratory officials told him in the early 1990s that he might be laid off.

Lee's lawyers rejected the accusations.

In its filing, the government said that in about 1993, Lee wrote letters to institutions in Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland and Taiwan seeking employment.

The government also stated that at one time Lee had made contact with officials from the Institute of Applied Physics and Computational Mathematics in China, though it did not provide a reason.

Patricia Chavez, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Albuquerque, N.M., where the case is being heard, said that prosecutors would not comment beyond the three-page document.

For some time, Lee's lawyers have demanded a bill of particulars, specifying which countries the government believed Lee was trying to assist.

Lee is charged with improperly downloading the data and doing so with the intention of aiding a foreign country.

George A. Stamboulidis, the assistant U.S. attorney who is leading the prosecution, in his filing left the government maximum flexibility by keeping its case against Lee vague.

He argued that Lee had not necessarily decided which country he intended to assist when he downloaded the weapons data.