Analysis: Behind the Recent CIA Espionage Indictments

Harold Nicholson

H.J. Nicholson

In 1997, when Harold James Nicholson was convicted for working for Russian intelligence, he became the highest-ranking CIA officer to be convicted of spying on behalf of a foreign agency. Last Thursday, it emerged that 24-year-old Nathaniel James Nicholson, Harold Nicholson’s youngest son, was arrested by FBI counterintelligence officers and charged with repeatedly contacting Russian officials on behalf of his imprisoned father. According to the court documents (.pdf) released Thursday, the purpose of Nathaniel Nicholson’s contact with the Russians was “to collect moneys from the Russian Federation for his [father’s] past espionage activities”. In reporting on the Nicholsons’ case, The New York Times quoted an anonymous “intelligence official” who played down Harold Nicholson’s importance for the Russians and suggested that “[t]his just shows that the Russians are either sentimental or stupid”. In fact, the Russians are neither, and The New York Times‘ sources should know better than to downplay Nicholson’s continued contact with his Russian handlers. Read article→