CIA agent accused of being spy reportedly accepts life sentence

April 26, 1994|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- Federal prosecutors are preparing to indict Aldrich H. Ames and his wife, Rosario, on espionage charges this week as part of a plea agreement that is close to being reached, people involved in the case said yesterday.

Mr. Ames, a career Central Intelligence Agency officer who has been accused of being one of the most damaging double agents in modern times, is expected to receive a life sentence as part of a plea bargain.

Intensive negotiations that have been under way since March are nearly complete. Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Mr. Ames will admit that he has spied for Moscow since the middle 1980s. And Mrs. Ames would receive a more lenient sentence that has still not been agreed upon.

If approved by a federal judge, the agreement would avert a potentially embarrassing trial for the government, which could have been forced to expose its own shortcomings in failing to detect Mr. Ames' activities.

The Ameses were arrested Feb. 21 and although they have been held in prison without bail, they have not been indicted.

Senior officials have said that in exchange for more than $2 million, the Ameses provided information that betrayed at least 10 Soviet and East block agents working for the United States.

Lawyers for the Ameses and the prosecutors have been involved in negotiations for more than a month, and the fact that the settlement talks appear to be nearly complete was reported Monday night by CBS News.

The case has reverberated throughout the CIA, which has been undergoing an extensive assessment to determine the alleged damage the Ameses did to American intelligence efforts.

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