WASHINGTON — The Defense Department inspector general is investigating the Navy's failed prosecution of Daniel King, a chief petty officer who was held on suspicion of passing secrets to Moscow, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, told the Post he had requested the Pentagon probe and scheduled a closed hearing next week to determine whether "bungling" by Navy prosecutors over the past two years had allowed an alleged spy to avoid trial.
"I believe it was a very strong case — and it was bungled, botched," Shelby said.
Navy officials dismissed all charges against King March 9 after a military judge cited "severe" prosecutorial problems.
King, 41, is retiring from the service with an honorable discharge; his lawyer said he intends to sue the Navy for damages, the Post reported.
King, a Navy code breaker, "was never a spy," Turley told the Post. "When Navy investigators found no evidence of espionage, they proceeded to create evidence to justify a colossal blunder."
Shelby, whose committee has oversight of espionage cases, told the newspaper he wants to know why FBI agents and Justice Department prosecutors with experience in such cases were never called in to assist the Navy.
"They didn't have the expertise they needed," Shelby was quoted as saying. "This was an important case. If you don't do it with experienced people, you compromise the case. I think this is what's happened."