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(which relate to ONI personnel in one way and another)

 

Who recalls ONI Mobile Op, Richard Meuller? DT: I worked with him and we got on well. He was very friendly, always well dressed and smartly turned out, and even then favored the high-life. He offered to show me round Berlin at the end of the job, but as things turned out I was sent on another project and we never met again. Who knows, maybe I would have become a multi-millionaire too. There again, being British rather than German, I would probably have ended up in the slammer, or the run! 

I had completely forgotten about Richard until Hans Karlsson sent me this report from the US News & World Report for July 31st 1989

On June26th, after a one day trial, Richard Mueller stood in a West German federal court in Lubeck awaiting sentence. Mueller been found guilty of shipping $14 million worth of militarily sensitive (mostly American) equipment to the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, in violation of an embargo agreed upon by the United States and its principal allies, including the Federal Republic of Germany. Mueller had supplied the Soviet military with advanced Western technology it could not purchase legally. At his trial, Mueller had lied and said he had not known there were any military applications for the equipment he had sold.

That he had arranged illegal sales through phony front companies in a dozen or more countries was undeniable. Computers seized by Swedish authorities in 1983 had been sold to fronts in South Africa and then shipped to West Germany before they were intercepted in Sweden on their illicit way to the Soviet Union.

Mueller's activities did grave harm to the security of the United States and its allies by increasing the technical sophistication of Soviet weapons, which, as a result, are increasingly costly for the West to counter. The microprocessors the Soviets now produce on production lines supplied by Mueller can be found in Soviet cruise missiles, advanced munitions and antisubmarine equipment. The Soviet Union's ability to develop reliable military command-and-control networks owes much to Mueller's highly profitable activities.

A fugitive since he was first indicted in 1979, Mueller started selling embargoed technology when Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Soviet Union. When he finally was brought to trial, a member of the Bundestag, the West German parliament, and a founding member of the Greens Party defended him. There wasn't, a murmur of criticism in or out of the Bundestag. The German press, too, was silent.

One might have expected that, as he faced the panel of judges and waited to hear his sentence, Mueller would have been grim, nervous, apprehensive.

But he was smiling. Under German law, the illegal sale of military equipment to the Soviets is almost always a misdemeanor. Though his crimes took place over many years and involved dozens of transactions, they were lumped together by the prosecutor into a single "first offense." Because it was a "first offense" and only a misdemeanor, the German government prosecutor did not request imprisonment. He didn't, even ask for a fine equal to Mueller's vast spoils. Instead, he asked for a suspended sentence and a fine of $750,000, insignificant to a multimillionaire who maintains a vast estate near Hamburg and has extensive landholdings in South Africa. Mueller walked out of the courtroom a free man. The casual, almost cavalier, attitude of the German government toward Mueller undoubtedly reflects the fact that it is the United States, not Germany, that pays to maintain the West's defenses. With only 3 percent of its gross national product going to defense - half the US level - Germany has been content to let me the US defend Europe while it winks at its citizens who grow rich strengthening the Warsaw Pact and other potential adversaries. In fact, German law encourages officials to be unduly cautious in pursuing those suspected of illegally exporting sensitive technology. If a German official interferes with a shipment on the basis of intelligence information that subsequently proves to be wrong, he can be held personally liable for damages.

And a Wall Street Journal report from February 1984

 

Cutting from a Rio bar's promotional flyer. It features - good looking guy on the left - ONI's head of North Sea Navigation in Oslo, along with the Kristiansund and Haugesund offices/workshops - Odmund Fargenes. How come? one wonders. Well, maybe he was their best customer (although he is reported as being "not much of a drinker"), so possibly he was the best looking guy in the place at the time, or perhaps he owned it!

dt@deltatango.net

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