Cablegate: Greek Justice Minister Requests Transfer Of
DE RUEHTH #1582/01 1711537
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201537Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5864
INFO RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L ATHENS 001582
JUSTICE FOR OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, CRIMINAL
DIVISION AND PRISONER TRANSFER UNIT
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/19/2026
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR GR
SUBJECT: GREEK JUSTICE MINISTER REQUESTS TRANSFER OF
"SUPERVISED RELEASE" FOR CONVICTED SPY LALAS
Classified By: Ambassador Charles P. Ries for reasons 1.4 b and d.
1. (U) On June 19, Ambassador received a letter from Greek
Justice Minister Anastasis Papaligouras with a copy of a
letter to Attorney General Gonzalez (see para 5) requesting
that former Embassy Athens communicator and convicted spy
Steven Lalas be allowed to serve the remainder of his
"supervised release" in Greece. The Minister asks this
request be granted on humanitarian grounds, as Lalas' wife
and children are now permanent residents in Greece. By way
of assurance, the Minister notes that "Greek judicial
authorities shall undertake to honor all standard conditions
of supervision imposed on Lalas." Local media reported on
June 17 that the original letter to the U.S. Attorney General
was transmitted by the Greek Ministry of Justice on June 16.
2. (C) Lalas pleaded guilty in 1993 in the Eastern District
of Virginia of conspiracy to commit espionage for passing
classified information to Greek intelligence circles while he
worked at Embassy Athens. In the two years before his
arrest, he passed at least 240 "Confidential" and "Secret"
level documents to a Greek military official in exchange for
money, including highly sensitive messages revealing covert
identities and job descriptions of U.S. Central Intelligence
Agency personnel. He was sentenced to 168 months (14 years)
imprisonment and a five year term of supervised release.
Lalas served his prison sentence in the U.S. and was released
to the supervision of the United States Parole and Probation
Service in New Hampshire on July 8, 2005.
3. (SBU) In May 2003, Lalas applied to serve the remainder
of his sentence in Greece under the Prisoner Transfer Treaty.
The United States received no documentation in support of
the transfer request from the Greek government. The FBI,
U.S. Attorney, and U.S. counterintelligence officials
strongly opposed the request, and it was denied. In July
2005, the GoG informally requested information on the
provisions of the supervised release of Lalas. At that time,
the Office of International Affairs at DOJ confirmed that it
would strongly oppose a request for Lalas to travel to
Greece, and would be "very much opposed" to a transfer of
Lalas' supervised release to Greece under the Prisoner
Transfer Treaty, noting the offense is too serious to
consider transfer of the supervision.
4. (C) Embassy Athens sees little foreign policy benefit in
granting the current GoG request and therefore recommends
against an effort to arrange for Lalas to serve the remainder
of his supervised release in Greece. The release of the
letter to the press, even before it was delivered to us,
indicates that this is largely intended for public
consumption. We believe that not meeting the request will
not harm our bilateral relationship with Greece. In a
courtesy reply, however, we suggest we focus on the fact that
the terms of Mr. Lalas' parole are the responsibility of the
independent judiciary. This would parallel the Greek
Ministry's response to our request for help in the case of
Seamen Vossler and Wright.
5. (U) Attached is the text of two letters from the Justice
LETTER TO AMBASSADOR RIES
The Minister of Justice
Mr. Charles P. Ries
Ambassador of the United States of America
I am sending you herewith my letter addressed to the Attorney
General of the U.S. Mr. Alberto Gonzalez, concerning the
issue of Steven Lalas.
I am counting on your support for the fulfillment of my
LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL:
The Minister of Justice
The Attorney General of the U.S.
Mr. Alberto R. Gonzalez
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington D.C. 20530-0001
I would hereby like to bring to your attention the issue of
Mr. Steven Lalas. As you are certainly aware, Mr. Lalas is a
U.S. citizen of Greek origin who was convicted in the U.S. in
1993 to imprisonment of 168 months for delivering defense
information to a foreign government. His term of
imprisonment has now been completed and Mr. Lalas has been
for approximately one year serving supervised release for a
term of five years.
As Mr. Lalas's wife and children are now permanent residents
in Greece, it is important for purely humanistic reasons to
allow him to serve this secondary penalty, for its remaining
period, in Greece. The Greek judicial authorities and the
Greek government shall undertake to honor all standard
conditions of supervision imposed on Mr. Lalas by the United
States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia in case
number 1: 93 CR00239-001.
I wish to underline the positive effect that a decision
allowing Mr. Lalas to serve the remainder of his supervised
release in Greece would create and the considerable goodwill
for the relations of our two countries. Furthermore, it
would enhance the already good working relationship between
our two Departments.
It is my sincere hope that you will give the matter your
attention and that you will react positively to my request.