August 9

This Day in History

Cold War

Aug 9, 1985:

Arthur Walker found guilty of spying for Soviet Union

Arthur Walker, a retired U.S. Navy officer, is found guilty of espionage for passing top-secret documents to his brother, who then passed them to Soviet agents. Walker was part of one of the most significant Cold War spy rings in the United States.

The arrest of Arthur Walker on May 29, 1985, came just one day after the arrest of his brother, John, and John's son, Michael. All three were charged with conducting espionage for the Soviet Union. John Walker, also a Navy veteran, was the ringleader, and government officials charged that he had been involved in spying for the Soviets since 1968. He recruited his son, who was serving in the U.S. Navy, a short time later. Arthur Walker was drawn into the scheme in 1980 when, at his brother's suggestion, he took a job with VSE, a Virginia defense contractor. Over the next two years, the government charged, Arthur Walker provided John with a number of highly classified documents dealing with the construction of naval vessels. For his services, Arthur Walker received about $12,000. A nasty divorce between John Walker and his wife eventually brought the spy ring to light when his wife, angry after their separation, went to the FBI to inform on her husband. It was revealed at their trials that the motivation of all the Walker men was the repayment of large debts they had accrued.

Arthur Walker was found guilty of seven counts of espionage on August 9, 1985. He was sentenced to life in prison and fined $250,000. John and Michael Walker later pled guilty to espionage charges, with John receiving two life sentences and Michael receiving 25 years in prison. A fourth conspirator, Jerry Whitworth, a friend of John Walker's, was convicted in 1986 on 12 counts of espionage and sentenced to 365 years in prison. With the arrests and convictions, the U.S. government claimed that it had broken one of the most destructive spy rings in the United States in the history of the Cold War.

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