Top US spy pleads guilty and gets life sentence

Aldrich Ames, the highest-yesterday pleaded guilty to espionage and tax evasion and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Under the plea bargain his wife, Rosario, also pleaded guilty and is likely to receive a sentence of five years.

passed secrets to the Soviet Union and later to the Russian governThe CIA's director, James Woolsey, he did, makes it easy for the agency to assess the damage caused.

The government later released a had spied for the US before they agent, codenamed Tickle, was described as the chief KGB agent in the UK - presumably a reference to Oleg Gordievsky. Another KGB officer, called Cowl, created a brief crisis in US-Soviet relations when he said the KGB was tracking US officials in Moscow by dusting them with invisible spy dust. He was later executed because of cause of concern about the couple's five-year-old son, Paul, who is being looked after by relatives in Colombia.

In a statement he said he had sold secrets to the Russians because serving sham'. He also read an eight-page statement criticising the government's treatment of his wife.

Admitting that the reasons for his espionage were not clear even to himself, he said: 'Frankly, these spy wars are a sideshow which have had no real impact on our significant security interests over the who had been working for the US, seven of the nine years during which he spied for Moscow his wife was unaware of his activities. When she did learn, through a careless mistake that he had made, she 'pleaded with me to break off our relationship with the Russians'. He told the court in Alexandria, Virginia: 'I bitterly regret the catastrophe which my betrayal of trust has brought upon my wife and son.'

will spend the rest of his life in prison with no prospect of parole. years, the length of her sentence being decided in four months' time, formation he gave away. Prosecu'unique access' to all American operations against the KGB.

In addition, the government has received a court order forcing the Ameses to return the money they received from Russia, some of which is in foreign bank accounts.

Ames's case has led to a fresh explosion in the long-running feud between the CIA and the FBI. The FBI said it had been kept in the detector test, and other aspects of the case.

considered by the White House, the CIA and FBI would - supposedly - integrate their counter-intelligence operations. A new centre would be established under an FBI official, which would be in overall control of all counter-intelligence operations. The centre itelf, however, would be part of the CIA.

(Photograph omitted)