It was not supposed to be this way for Stephen.
He should be eating and laughing with you. He should be well along in his career. He should be looking forward to smelling the roses a bit with his family, but the unthinkable has happened.
On August 27, 2010 the Department of Justice indicted Stephen for allegedly providing classified information to a news organization. His world came to a literal halt. Everything that he had ever worked for and accomplished was gone in an instant.
Actually, the nightmare started before August 27 but the world could not know it. On March 28, 2010, nearly five months before the indictment, the FBI told Stephen that they had been investigating him since June 2009. From March 28 till August 27, the Department of Justice sought to negotiate a settlement that would have him admit to something he did not do and then sweep the case under the rug so no one would be the wiser.
Stephen and his attorney tried to reason with the government to deal with the issue in some non-criminal fashion. In fact, Stephen cooperated with the government throughout this ordeal.
He spoke to the FBI on two occasions for more than 10 hours, even though he was not obligated to do so. He was not told he was the target of any investigation or that he had the right to speak to an attorney or that he should even consider doing so. He voluntarily surrendered his passport when the FBI asked for it, as a sign of his good faith even though he was under no charge and did not have to do so. He allowed the FBI to physically search every corner of his house without a search warrant (which they did not have). He even allowed them to take away all of his computers even though he did not have to do that either.
The FBI put Stephen on 24-hour surveillance even though he was clearly not a flight risk. They followed him everywhere – to work, to church, to see his lawyers, to shopping malls, even when he went out for a fast food snack.
Every single day, every single hour since that day, Stephen has been coping with shock, anguish, fear, and uncertainty. Because of the investigation, Stephen was denied work in Washington. He was required to return to Livermore, California to resume work at his home agency, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He informed the government of all these developments and picked himself up and tried to start again, living in a motel on a month-to-month basis with the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head.
Then, he was given sudden notice on Thursday August 19 that he was required to return to DC within 24 hours due to the government having returned an indictment. In a daze, he had to quickly pack up all his belongings and move back.
When he got back, there was more back and forth with the government and there was, for a short time, some hope that a resolution other than the one the government wanted – a felony plea and a long criminal sentence – could be worked out. But then, suddenly, despite Stephen’s and his attorneys’ full cooperation, the prosecutors told Stephen that if he did not plead guilty in 10 minutes, they would unseal the indictment and proceed to the first appearance in court. There was no time for him to reflect, to talk with his family or friends, or even to “sleep on it.”
Stephen, of course, could not give in to this type of pressure and would not plead guilty to something he did not do.
After the hour long session in court, FBI agents led Stephen out of the courthouse in handcuffs, his hands behind his back, to be booked in three different places — fingerprint after fingerprint and photo after photo were taken; he was cuffed and un-cuffed at each place. The cuffs were so tight they cut into his wrists.
In between locations, he was forced to sit in the car still in handcuffs as if he was
going to try to escape even though he had been under investigation for months and months and went nowhere, cooperated, told the government where he was constantly, and was represented by counsel. What was supposed to take an hour lasted 3 hours – with little water and in tight handcuffs all the time.
If Stephen had allowed the physical and psychological pressure to get to him and give in to the prosecutors’ demands, he would have allowed 43 years of his life and existence to be deleted like a computer file without a word spoken in his defense. And if you knew Stephen, you would know, that once he recovered from the shock of this all, he would not disappear from this life like that. He has conducted his entire life with honor and integrity, doing the right thing, and being loyal to the United States and passionate about the mission of defending and advancing the national security of the United States.
Stephen is determined to fight for his honor and his freedom. But the psychological, emotional, and financial burden of a trial are so daunting that Stephen has been able to do little else but worry and now pick himself up for the fight ahead. Stephen is fortunate to have very able and experienced attorneys, we think some of the best in the country, but there is a great deal to be done.
He already depleted all of his life savings even before the indictment came.
Our parents sold their house to finance the enormous legal cost of defending Stephen, but that will not be enough. The government has spent over 19 months going after Stephen; they have at least four prosecutors and a half dozen agents working the case; they have spent millions to get him. Stephen needs to be able to fight back and level the playing field a bit. He cannot match the government dollar for dollar, but he can put up a good fight if you can help contribute to his defense.
For that purpose, Stephen’s roommate from college, Kirk Stark, has established the Stephen Kim Legal Defense Trust. Kirk is Vice Dean and Professor of Law at UCLA and he will oversee the Trust. His contact information is a click away. Our entire family has drawn inspiration and strength from his generosity in establishing this Trust, and his immediate and unequivocal support of Stephen from the very
beginning has been moving to our family.
Stephen and our family try somehow to find meaning in a world that has been shaken. Everything is different now. We swing between feeling strong and weak; angry and resolved; sad and anxious to make the fight. Mostly, we are determined, confident, energetic, and positive.
Your words of support, via email and phone calls, have been electrifying. They are what get Stephen up in the morning. They are the very essence of his strength. Please keep them coming. They are his daily bread.
T.S. Eliot said, “In my end is my beginning.”
And so it is for Stephen.
Please help him.