Local News

Fort Bragg Soldier Accused of Spying Via Computer

Posted August 20, 1996
Updated August 24

— Pfc. Eric O. Jenott has been jailed for allegedly giving ``secret computer passwords relating to the national defense'' to someone from another country, according to Army documents.

Jenott, 20, of Seattle has been charged with espionage, damaging military property, larceny and breaking into government computer systems, the Fayetteville Observer-Times reported in today's editions.

The soldier's lawyer said his client is not a spy and did not mean to hurt the United States.

Jenott's father and his lawyer said Jenott only was trying to prove that a military communications system was not failsafe.

``He is not a criminal, just a computer hacker who happened to access a very important and expensive, supposedly impenetrable system,'' the lawyer, Timothy Dunn, said.

Dunn said he could not say much about the case because the Army considers it classified. Fort Bragg officials only would say that the case is under investigation.

Jenott, a communication switch operator in Fort Bragg's 35th Signal Brigade, has been held in the jail at Camp Lejeune since June 26. He could be sentenced to life in a military prison if he is convicted in a court-martial.

Several months ago, Jenott discovered an apparent security weakness in the communications system, said his father, John Jenott, of Graham, Wash. Army officials and the manufacturer said the system could not be cracked, according to a source described as close to the case told the Observer-Times.

Jenott eventually persuaded his superiors to watch him access the system, his father said. He later was arrested because Army officials said Jenott compromised the communication system by accessing it, his father said.

Jenott told investigators that he gave a friend from China an Internet access code that is not classified, his father said.

``If he would have never told them, they wouldn't have known it,'' Jenott's father said.

Jenott's father said an Army defense lawyer told him the prosecution was not going to seek the death penalty in the case. A court-martial could decide next month if Jenott has to remain in jail


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