View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 22, 1994

Statement by the Press Secretary

The Justice Department today announced the arrest of a veteran, mid-level employee of the CIA and his wife on charges of conspiracy to commit espionage. This ten-month investigation culminated in the arrest of Aldrich Hazen Ames and Maria del Rosario Ames. Since late 1991, Ames had served in the CIA's Counter-narcotics Center.

The President views this as a very serious case involving our national security. He has expressed his appreciation to the FBI and the CIA for their successful efforts to crack this difficult case. The President has instructed the State Department to lodge a strong official protest with the Russian Government. Secretary of State Warren Christopher has called in the Russian Charge d'affaires for this purpose and our Ambassador to Russia Tom Pickering is contacting senior officials of the Russian government in Moscow this evening for the same purpose.

The President has instructed National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, working with Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey and others, to lead a coordinated examination of the national security implications of this case.

During the painstaking investigation, the Administration took every precaution to limit potential damage to the national security. The President and National Security Advisor were apprised of the investigation as it was carried out.

I cannot comment on the legal aspects of the case against Mr. and Mrs. Ames. I would refer any questions in this regard to the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.