QUANTICO, Va. -- Marine Sgt. Clayton Lonetree was convicted of espionage and 12 other charges Friday for slipping secrets to the KGB while guarding the U.S. embassies in Moscow and Vienna, and could be sentenced to life in prison.
Lonetree is the first Marine court-martialed for espionage, and the only Marine to face espionage charges in the so-called sex-for-secrets scandal.
An eight-member court-martial jury reached its verdict after deliberating for four hours, ruling that Lonetree spied on the United States while a Marine guard at the U.S. embassies in Moscow and Vienna.
As Lonetree, an American Indian, was escorted from the courtroom by Marine guards under the glare of television camera lights he was silent, but his family and defense team applauded and his mother, Sally Tsostie, yelled out a single word in Navajo that means 'innocent.'
Tsostie said, 'I taught my son to be an honest man. He was being honest when he turned himself in. He's not a traitor. ... He expected they would give him a guilty verdict. American Indians are treated like this across the centuries.'
Military prosecutors throughout the court-martial had maintained that Lonetree, an American Indian, engaged in spying out of a deep hatred for the U.S. government's treatment of Indians.
Defense attorneys, however, charged that the government's case was at least partially motivated by Lonetree's background.
'I put my arm around him' when the verdict was read by jury president Lt. Col. James Allen, said his defense lawyer, William Kunstler. 'He was shaking, but he was like a Marine. He took it well.'
The presiding judge, Navy Capt. Philip Roberts, ordered the jury to return Monday morning to begin deliberations on a sentence. Two of the 13 counts on which Lonetree was convicted, espionage and conspiracy to commit espionage, carry possible life sentences.
Defense attorney Michael Stuhff, irate at the rulings of the court, said earlier in the day that he would appeal any conviction to the Navy Court of Military Review.
'This judge has given us for appeal so many issues, that this conviction cannot stand,' Stuhff said.
'This judge violated his oath of office,' Kunstler told reporters later. 'He is a disgrace.'
Stuhff said Roberts' rulings limited his ability to cross examine prosecution witnesses and barred him from calling some of his own. The defense took the unusual step of refusing to call any witnesses to testify on Lonetree's behalf.
Three other Marines still face lesser charges stemming from the investigation that began with Lonetree's arrest.
Kunstler called Lonetree 'essentially the scapegoat for everybody. ... He stands relatively alone here in what started out as the great sex spy scandal.'
Prosecutor Maj. David Beck, in closing arguments earlier Friday, asked, 'Could anyone really believe that this accused did not know he was helping the U.S.S.R.?'
'The defense would have you believe he's an innocent Walter Mitty type. He's a real-life Benedict Arnold,' Beck said.
But Kunstler, in his closing arguments in the four-week military trial, said Lonetree 'didn't believe that what he was doing was wrong' and he did not spy for the Sovets.
Lonetree played a 'foolish, dangerous game to try to outwit the KGB,' he told jurors. 'It was profoundly stupid.'
After Kunstler wrapped up his presentation, Roberts delivered instructions to the jury of eight Marine Corps officers, who began their deliberations at 5:12 p.m. EDT.
Lonetree was charged with 13 criminal counts: one of espionage, three of conspiracy to commit espionage, four of failure to obey regulations and five of disclosing identities of U.S. agents.
Military law requires two-thirds of a jury to vote for conviction. In Lonetree's case, six of the eight Marine jurors must side with prosecutors for conviction. The jury also determines the sentence if a conviction is returned.
Wrapping up the prosecution case, Beck said Lonetree is a traitor who caused grave national security damage. 'While Sgt. Clayton Lonetree was in uniform, he betrayed his country,' Beck declared.
When Lonetree realized he was dealing with a KGB agent known as Sasha, he tried to obtain information for the United States, Kunstler said.
Beck emphasized a confession signed by Lonetree, which the defense contends was coerced.
Defense attorneys contended that Lonetree was duped by his Soviet lover, Violetta, who introduced him to the KGB. They also claimed that when he realized he was dealing with a KGB agent known as Sasha, he tried to be a double agent.
But Beck said, 'To become a double agent, one must first have been a spy.'
Lonetree is the only Marine charged with spying in the 'sex-for-secrets' scandal earlier this year that led to the recall of the entire 28-member contingent of Marine guards from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
Beck reviewed testimony from more than 30 witnesses and reiterated the prosecution argument that Lonetree betrayed national security to avenge government treatment of American Indians.
'Money, intrigue, sex, ego, ideology -- all of these were involved,' Beck said. 'Lonetree violated his oath. (He) sold out our national defense ... to a country which has declared our country as public enemy No. 1.'
Beck also highlighted Lonetree's sworn confession, obtained Dec. 28 and 29 in a London hotel room by agents of the Naval Investigating Service. Lonetree admitted to giving the KGB agent Sasha a floor plan to the classified seventh floor of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, photographs of U.S. intelligence agents, the location of the U.S. ambassador's office and the home telephone numbers and addresses of embassy workers.