From his prison cell in Sheridan, Ore., Nicholson remains one of the highest-ranking CIA officials ever to plead guilty to espionage, and now, allegedly tried to pull off another daring feat of tradecraft.
It seems that Harold J. Nicholson enlisted his youngest son to travel the world and collect cash from Russian agents as a "pension" for his past services, federal officials declared.
A former instructor at the agency's Northern Virginia-based training school, known as "the farm," Nicholson already had admitted to giving the Russians the identities of some of his CIA pupils and the station chief in Moscow in the 1990s in exchange for $300,000.
But even after Nicholson reported to prison in 1997, the former CIA operative allegedly kept up his clandestine activities, attempting to recruit inmates and their friends to serve as go-betweens with Russian officials. Nicholson apparently was after a "kind of retirement 'pension' available to him in Russia," according to court papers filed by the FBI.
Those allegations helped lead to new criminal charges against Nicholson and his son Nathaniel of conspiracy, money laundering and acting as a foreign agent, in what Oregon U.S. Attorney Karin J. Immergut called "a sinister and continuing scheme."
It also has earned him The Lang Report’s “Golden Fleece Award.”
Naturally, Harold and Nathaniel Nicholson pleaded not guilty in a brief court appearance yesterday and were held pending further court proceedings.
Nathaniel Nicholson, now 24, once served in the U.S. Army and worked part time at a saw company and a Pizza Hut restaurant. He allegedly met with Russian representatives in San Francisco, Mexico City and Lima, Peru.
Last month, he traveled to Cyprus, where he rendezvoused with foreign agents at a T.G.I. Friday's restaurant, according to the indictment unsealed yesterday. He arranged the Dec. 10, 2008, meeting through coded e-mail messages, investigators said.
Nathaniel collected $35,000, which he distributed to his siblings and grandparents to help cover car repairs and household needs, according to instructions from his father, government filings reported.
FBI agents won court approval to listen in on Nathaniel's cellphone, to intercept Internet searches and e-mail messages, to place a tracker on his 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier and to surveil his apartment in Eugene, Ore. They also said they watched him at the Houston airport in December 2007, while Customs and Border Protection inspectors searched him upon his arrival from Peru.
Authorities secretly photocopied the contents of his notebook and business cards at the airport, uncovering handwritten notes that mentioned the address of the Russian embassy in Mexico City, the FBI affidavit said. More notes said that "Grandparents know the situation. They are trustworthy, and will help-w/cover up."
Father and son communicated frequently, in writing and in person, authorities said.
Nicholson also referred to the Second Chance Act, signed into law in April 2008, and two other laws that could shorten his 23-year prison sentence, in correspondence that the FBI said was intended for Russian handlers. Prosecutors said they suspect Nicholson, 58, was trying to arrange for a passport in the event he won early release from prison.
EDITORIAL NOT: So you see, it all makes perfect sense when you begin to understand that Nicholson was just planning ahead, for the day he was freed.
So, congratulations to Harold Nicholson and family for achieving a new low and winning the notorious Golden Fleece Award.
AROUND the BLOGOSPHERE:
Feds: Jailed ex-spy seeks Russian money via son | KOMO News ... - (AP) - A letter that ex-CIA spy Harold Nicholson sent his girlfriend from prison contained a line about his youngest son that may be prophetic - "Nathan is exactly like I am." On Thursday, the 58-year-old Nicholson stood before a ...
Federal Bureau of Investigation - The Portland Division ... - "Harold James Nicholson, a convicted spy, was allowed to serve time in a federal prison in Oregon to be near his family. Without regret, he used that proximity to his family to continue contact with the foreign country for which he was ...
CIA accused of being a spy hid cash in playstation - Accused Spy and former CIA Harold Nicholson is a traitor to his country. He pleaded guilty in 1997 to selling the identities of fellow CIA officers to Russians, and he’s been languishing in a Federal prison since then, serving 23 years. ...
PlayStation Cases, The Tools of International Espionage - Gizmodo ... - Harold Nicholson was a CIA operative convicted of espionage for selling CIA identities to Russia. Since 1997, he's been in jail. But allegedly, his son Nathan has carried on the family business... ...