ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Former Attorney General Janet Reno and former FBI Director Louis Freeh won't have to explain the government's investigation into suspected espionage involving Wen Ho Lee after a judge ruled Friday such depositions could compromise nuclear security.
Attorneys for the Energy Department's former chief investigator, Notra Trulock, wanted to take depositions from Reno, Freeh and two FBI agents in hopes they would help show Trulock did not focus the investigation on the Taiwanese-born Lee because of his race.
Thomas Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, which is representing Trulock, said the Justice Department "doesn't want Freeh and Reno to testify because they have something to hide."
The FBI's mishandling of the Lee case was a major embarrassment for the bureau. A review of the case called it an investigation that "from its very first moments went awry."
Trulcok is suing Lee and two government investigators, claiming accusations they made of racial profiling defamed Trulock.
But U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee on Friday agreed with a magistrate who had found that the deposition request was too broad and nuclear secrets could be divulged.
The attorneys have narrowed their request and it is up to the Justice Department to decide whether to agree to it.
Trulock's attorneys have already interviewed Lee, his wife and former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.
Lee was held in solitary confinement for nine months and indicted on 59 felony counts alleging he transferred nuclear weapons information to portable computer tapes. He was never charged with spying and denied giving information to China.
As the government's case crumbled, Lee pleaded guilty to a felony count of downloading sensitive material.
Lee, who was a nuclear scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, has sued Richardson and the government for defamation.