The mystery deepens; the tapes aren't found

WASHINGTON - Deepening the mystery of Wen Ho Lee, none of the more than 10 tapes pulled out of a New Mexico landfill by the FBI are the ones made by the U.S. nuclear scientist, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Lee told investigators he threw the material, consisting of downloaded data on nuclear secrets, into the trash at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1999.

While the latest finding raises new doubts about Lee's assertion that he dumped the tapes, officials have acknowledged they have no physical evidence to disprove his story, the Post said. The New York Times reported Wednesday that a preliminary analysis of the cassettes found in the landfill showed no link to the scientist.

Lee told investigators after he was freed from prison in a plea bargain in September that he got rid of the tapes after losing his security clearance by putting them in a trash bin outside the Los Alamos laboratory.

Lee was investigated by the FBI from 1996 to 1999 about the loss of data on the United States' latest nuclear warhead, the W-88, to China.

He was indicted on 59 felony counts, including alleged violations of the Atomic Energy Act, after being fired for security violations in 1999. He pleaded guilty to a single felony when it was shown that the lead FBI agent in the case had given false testimony.


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