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CIA double-agent faces jail for life

WASHINGTON (Reuter) - The former CIA agent, Aldrich Ames, faces life imprisonment for selling secrets to the Soviet Union and then Russia, despite a tentative agreement to admit his guilt and co-operate with investigators. US officials said there could be no leniency for Ames in what is regarded as one of the most damaging spy cases in US history.

However his Colombian-born wife Rosario, who has also been charged in the affair, is likely to benefit from the plea- bargaining deal. She has been appealing for a non-custodial sentence to allow her to take care of the couple's young son. The officials said co-operation by Ames would help the CIA and the FBI to assess the damage to national security, and would avoid a costly trial that could embarrass the CIA and disclose secrets. Prosecutors allege that Ames received more than dollars 2.5m ( pounds 1.6m) from his Moscow paymasters.