LOS ANGELES -- A lawyer for Andrew Daulton Lee, a convicted Soviet spy in 'The Falcon and the Snowman' case, told a federal appeals court that the judge who sentenced the young man to life in prison may have been unfairly swayed by thousands of top secret documents never shown to the defense.
Attorney Kenneth Kahn speculated Friday after a brief hearing -- his latest effort to get a reduced sentence for his client -- that the CIA had helped Christopher Boyce, Lee's co-defendant in the celebrated case, to escape from federal prison last year.
'It's strange that he (Boyce) was the first Russian spy to escape in American history,' Kahn told reporters. 'And they haven't been able to find him for more than a year.'
Kahn told the three-judge appeals court panel that federal judge Robert Kelleher, who presided at the trial, had privately viewed thousands of top secret documents submitted by the FBI, CIA and State Department.
Boyce, 27, and Lee, 28, were convicted in 1977 of stealing thousands of top secret documents from TRW Inc., a defense contractor, and selling them to KGB agents working out of the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City.
Boyce was convicted of actually taking the documents out of the Redondo Beach, Calif., company and sentenced to 40 years.
His trial and subsequent escape from the Lompoc, Calif., prison Jan. 21, 1980 were described in the bestselling book 'The Falcon and the Snowman,' written by New York Times reporter Robert Lindsey.
The U.S. Marshals Service has been frustrated in its hunt for Boyce, who at various times had been reported to be hiding in Mexico, Alaska and South Africa since his escape.
Kahn said the documents, which were not shown to defense attorneys because of their sensitive nature, could have contained 'highly inflammatory' material prejudicial to Lee.
The judge -- 'as a human being' -- could not have helped being influenced by the information when passing the stiff sentence, he said.
He said the case therefore had 'an appearance of basic unfairness to the defendant' and asked the appeals court to either let him review the documents or name a new judge to review the sentence.
Federal prosecutor Katherine Quadross told the court that the trial record clearly indicated that the judge was not influenced by the classified material when passing sentence.
The court took Kahn's request under submission.
After the session, Kahn told reporters that Lee was convicted during a 'secret hearing.' He also claimed that a scheduled hearing to determine if any prison guards at Lompoc were at fault when Boyce escaped last year was cancelled to keep the case out of the public eye.
Prison spokesman Chuck LaRue said three officers at Lompoc were suspended for negligence after Boyce's escape, but were reinstated with back pay when they appealed the case and Civil Service review board determined there was a lack of evidence. He said no public hearing was held in the case.