NSA Analyst Who Sold Secrets Dies 'With Many Regrets'

Ronald Pelton spent decades in prison for spying for Soviet Union
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2022 6:00 PM CDT
NSA Analyst Who Sold Secrets to Soviets Dies
Pelton's NSA photo from the 1970s.   (NSA/Wikipedia)

A former National Security Agency analyst who sold secrets to the Soviet Union has died almost seven years after his release from federal custody. Ronald William Pelton served nearly 30 years in prison after his arrest in 1985. The FBI said Pelton, who worked for the NSA for 14 years and resigned in 1979, sold intelligence secrets to the Soviets after leaving the agency because he was having financial problems. He was convicted and sentenced to three life sentences plus 10 years after he was turned in by a KGB agent who defected. The Guardian describes Pelton as arguably the NSA's "most damaging traitor."

An obituary of the 80-year-old on the website of a Maryland funeral home doesn't mention the espionage or decades in prison but describes him as an Air Force veteran and gifted musician who worked for the NSA and sold luxury boats "later in his career." In a comment, daughter Pamela Wright described her relationship with him as complicated. "When I was nineteen, he left and didn’t return until I was nearly fifty. During that span of time there was almost no communication. I grew up," she wrote. "Had a family. Went to college and gained a professional career. Had grandchildren. I lived my life without him. When he came back, he was quieter. More mellow. With many regrets." (More National Security Agency stories.)

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