Supporters of a Los Alamos scientist who was prosecuted for making copies of sensitive nuclear weapons data have gathered 15,000 signatures seeking a presidential pardon.

The petition was sent to President Bush on July 2 on behalf of Wen Ho Lee and was to be sent Friday to the Justice Department.

That's according to Cecilia Chang of Fremont, California, who launched the petition drive.

Almost 10,0000 signatures were gathered in the last few days of June. The first couple of years saw less than 6,000 collected.

Lee, a Taiwanese-born naturalized U-S citizen, issued a recorded statement in Mandarin Chinese thanking his supporters.

The signatures went to Bush with a cover letter saying Lee was the only American ever charged with felonies for alleged security violations without evidence of classified information being transferred to someone unauthorized.