Rosario Ames denies spying

April 20, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A distraught Rosario Ames says she had no knowledge of her husband's activities in the intelligence world and is bitter and angry over the shattering of her family's life by the couple's arrest on spying allegations.

In her first interview since her arrest on Feb. 21, Mrs. Ames contended yesterday that portrayals of her as a "Mata Hari" figure in an alleged conspiracy that funneled CIA secrets to the Russians could not be further from the truth.

"I never worked for the Soviets," she said in the hour-long interview, which was conducted in the presence of her attorney, William B. Cummings, at the Alexandria city jail, where she is being held awaiting possible federal grand jury indictment or a plea bargain in her case.

The Colombian-born Mrs. Ames and her husband, Aldrich H. Ames, a 31-year CIA veteran, were arrested on espionage conspiracy charges and the FBI alleged that Aldrich Ames had been paid at least $2.5 million by the Soviets and later the Russians to spy for them since 1985.

Mrs. Ames and Mr. Cummings indicated they expect another extension of the deadline for grand jury action in the case as they work out details of a plea bargain with prosecutors. The Los Angeles Times reported April 7 that Mr. Ames, 52, has indicated willingness to cooperate with investigators as they try to assess damage done by his alleged spying, but only if they recommend leniency for Mrs. Ames, who is 41.

In the interview, Rosario Ames recounted the difficulties of being held in jail for nearly two months and broke down in tears as she pointed to a photograph of her 5-year-old son, Paul, saying: "He is the one who keeps me going."

She told of struggling with "anger, resentment and bitterness" toward her husband -- feelings that now have settled into "great sadness and bewilderment."

Asked the source of her anger toward her husband and whether she felt "that he brought all of this upon the family," she said: "I don't know if I want to . . ."

Mr. Cummings, who had set the ground rule that Rosario Ames would not discuss evidence in the case, cut her off, saying: "I think that's probably too close."

Mrs. Ames also waved off questions on excerpts from government wiretaps on the couples' phones that depict her as a driving force in her husband's alleged spying.

In one recorded conversation, included in a detailed FBI affidavit, she cautioned her husband against carelessness in carrying sensitive documents or cash, apparently from his Russian handlers, in suitcases that he was checking as airline baggage.

In another, she berated him, allegedly for failing to leave a signal for the Russians, saying: "Well, honey, I hope you didn't screw up."

Asked to comment on the recordings, she said: "I would love to, but I can't right now. Maybe in the future I will be able to."

"Her position is that the tapes do not reflect the nature of her

relationship with her husband," Mr. Cummings said.

"Yes, he's right," Mrs. Ames said.

"Beyond that, it's not something we can discuss right now," Mr. Cummings said.

She said she did not know that Aldrich Ames, whom she said she met at a Diplomatic Association function in Mexico in 1982, was in the CIA until he proposed marriage just before leaving Mexico in 1983.

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