Christopher John Boyce

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Christopher John Boyce
Christopher-Boyce-mugshot15.jpg
Christopher John Boyce's U.S. Marshals Service mugshot
Born (1953-02-16) February 16, 1953 (age 65)
Nationality American
Other names Anthony Edward Lester
Employer TRW
Known for Espionage
Notable work American Sons: The Untold Story of The Falcon and The Snowman
Spouse(s) Kathleen Mills
Website thefalconandthesnowman.com

Christopher John Boyce (born February 16, 1953) is a former American defense industry employee who was convicted for selling United States spy satellite secrets to the Soviet Union in the 1970s.[1]

Espionage[edit]

Boyce is the son of Noreen Boyce (née Hollenbeck) and former McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation, Director of Security, Charles Eugene Boyce. Along with his three brothers and five sisters, Boyce was raised in Southern California, in the affluent community of Rancho Palos Verdes, a suburb southwest of Los Angeles.

In 1974, Boyce was hired at TRW, an aerospace firm in Redondo Beach, California. Due to his father's prestigious position at McDonnell Douglas, Boyce was able to obtain employment. Within months, Boyce was promoted to a highly sensitive position in TRW's "Black Vault" (classified communications center) with a top secret security clearance, where he worked with National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) transmissions.[2]

Boyce claims that he began getting misrouted cables from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) discussing the agency's desire to depose the government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in Australia. Boyce claimed the CIA wanted Whitlam removed from office because he wanted to close U.S. military bases in Australia, including the vital Pine Gap secure communications facility, and withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam. For these reasons some claim that U.S. government pressure was a major factor in the dismissal of Whitlam as Prime Minister by the Governor General, Sir John Kerr, who according to Boyce, was referred to as "our man Kerr" by CIA officers.[3] Through the cable traffic Boyce saw that the CIA was involving itself in such a manner, not just with Australia but with other democratic, industrialized allies. Boyce considered going to the press, but believed the media's earlier disclosure of CIA involvement in the 1973 Chilean coup d'état had not changed anything for the better.[citation needed]

Instead, he gathered a quantity of classified documents concerning secure U.S. communications ciphers and spy satellite development and had his friend Andrew Daulton Lee, a cocaine and heroin dealer since his high school days (hence his nickname, "The Snowman") deliver them to Soviet embassy officials in Mexico City, returning with large sums of cash for Boyce (nicknamed "The Falcon" because of his longtime interest in falconry) and himself. According to a book that Boyce and his wife co-authored, the information was not valuable to the Soviet Union.[4]

Boyce, then 23, was finally exposed after Lee was arrested by Mexican police in front of the Soviet embassy on January 6, 1977[5]. His arrest was "almost by accident": Lee was arrested for littering[5]. During his harsh interrogation, Lee, who had top secret microfilm in his possession when arrested, confessed to being a Soviet spy and implicated Boyce. Boyce was arrested on January 16, 1977, when the FBI found him hiding out at the shack he was renting near Riverside, California. He was convicted May 14, 1977, of espionage and sentenced to 40 years in prison, initially at Terminal Island and then the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego. On July 10, 1979, he was transferred to the federal penitentiary in Lompoc, California.

Escape[edit]

On January 21, 1980, Boyce escaped from Lompoc.[5][6][7] While a fugitive, Boyce carried out 17 bank robberies in Idaho and Washington, and adopted the alias of "Anthony Edward Lester".

According to Boyce, he studied aviation, not to flee to the Soviet Union as some suspected, but to rescue Daulton Lee from Lompoc.[8]

On August 21, 1981, Boyce was arrested while eating in his car outside "The Pit Stop," a drive-in restaurant in Port Angeles, Washington.[9][10] Authorities had received a tip about Boyce's whereabouts from his former bank robbery confederates.

Return to prison[edit]

Boyce was sentenced to three years for his escape and to 25 years for bank robbery, conspiracy, and breaking federal gun laws.[11] He was transferred to United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth.[12]

In 1982, Boyce gave a television interview to Ray Martin for Australia's 60 Minutes about the dismissal of Whitlam. After this he received a bashing from fellow inmates which he believed was orchestrated by prison guards.[13] After the attack, he was transferred to USP Marion, where he was held in isolation.[14]

In April 1985, Boyce gave testimony on how to prevent insider spy threats to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations as part of its Government Personnel Security Program.[15]

In 1988, with support from senators, he was transferred, out of solitary confinement, to Minnesota Correctional Facility – Oak Park Heights.[16] In 1998 he was transferred to ADX Florence in Colorado; in his opinion, this was punishment for a newspaper article that he had written.[17] In 2000 he was transferred to FCI Sheridan in Oregon.[18]

Release and subsequent life[edit]

Boyce was released from prison on parole on September 16, 2002 after serving a little over 25 years, accounting for his time spent outside from the escape.[19][20] Shortly thereafter he married Kathleen Mills, whom he had met when she was working as a paralegal spearheading efforts to obtain parole for Lee. After her success with Lee, she turned her attention to securing parole for Boyce as well, and the two developed a personal relationship.[21] The couple moved to Oregon, and Boyce's own parole ended in 2007.[22]

In 2013, Boyce published a book titled American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman, which mainly discusses his time in prison and relationship with Kathleen. At that time, he was living a relatively quiet life with Kathleen in central Oregon, where he had resumed his participation in falconry as a frequent pastime.[22] When interviewed at the time his book was released, Boyce expressed support for the actions of Edward Snowden in exposing information about the United States government's surveillance programs.[22]

In popular culture[edit]

The story of their case was told in Robert Lindsey's best-selling 1979 book The Falcon and the Snowman. This book was turned into a film of the same title in 1985 by director John Schlesinger starring Timothy Hutton as Boyce and Sean Penn as Lee.

Lindsey's initial book was followed by The Flight of the Falcon: The True Story of the Escape and Manhunt for America's Most Wanted Spy (1983), an account of Christopher Boyce's escape from Federal prison and subsequent bank robbing spree.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Spy's arrest ends chapter in saga". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. August 23, 1981. p. 4A. 
  2. ^ Pilger, John, A Secret Country, Vintage Books, London, 1992, ISBN 9780099152316, pp. 212-15, 230, 236, 252.
  3. ^ Martin, Ray (May 23, 1982). "A Spy's Story: USA Traitor Gaoled For 40 Years After Selling Codes of Rylite and Argus Projects (transcript)". 60 Minutes. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font LLC. p. 240. 
  5. ^ a b c "Man convicted as Soviet spy escapes from federal prison". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). UPI. January 22, 1980. p. 3A. 
  6. ^ "Spy flees prison". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. January 23, 1980. p. 3, part 1. 
  7. ^ US Marshals Service - Capture of Christopher Boyce
  8. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font LLC. pp. 63–65, 80–86. 
  9. ^ "Escaped spy Boyce posed as fisherman". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. August 23, 1981. p. 3A. 
  10. ^ "Agents went incognito to catch spy". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. August 23, 1981. p. 4A. 
  11. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font LLC. pp. 132–33. 
  12. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font LLC. p. 139. 
  13. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font LLC. pp. 145–49. 
  14. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font LLC. pp. 158–60. 
  15. ^ Christopher Boyce Testimony, NOIR for USA
  16. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font LLC. p. 200. 
  17. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font LLC. pp. 252–53. 
  18. ^ Boyce, Christopher; Boyce, Cait; Font, Vince (2013). The Falcon and the Snowman: American Sons. Vince Font LLC. pp. 267–70. 
  19. ^ U.S. spy freed after 25 years in prison / Christopher Boyce sold secrets to Soviets. Chuck Squatriglia, San Francisco Chronicle, 15 March 2003.
  20. ^ The Falcon and the Fallout, Richard A. Serrano, Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2007.
  21. ^ Denson, Bryan (March 6, 2014). "Christopher Boyce, whose spy work inspired 'The Falcon and the Snowman', finds happiness in Oregon". The Oregonian. 
  22. ^ a b c Miller, Sheila G. (November 10, 2013). "The (ex) spy among us". The Bulletin. 

Further reading[edit]

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