How the FBI Turned the Screws on Wen Ho Lee

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In a hard-edged FBI interview with indicted nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee last March, federal agents told him that if he didn't own up to spying, he might be jailed for life or even executed. "The Rosenbergs are the only people that never cooperated with the federal government in an espionage case," an agent told Lee, according to an unclassified copy of the transcript obtained by TIME. "You know what happened to them? They electrocuted them, Wen Ho."

"Yeah, I heard," Lee replied.

The agent persisted. "You know Aldrich Ames? He's going to rot in jail." When Lee tried to leave, pleading fatigue, an agent warned, "If you walk out that door today... I can't stop the people from polygraphing your wife."

Lee's defenders cite the session as a prime example of FBI intimidation tactics aimed at forcing a confession out of Lee because agents were desperate to "solve" the nuclear-secrets theft case. Government sources insist it is common — and legal — for agents to bluff while trying to shake a subject's story.