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Federal agents seized computers, papers, books and electronic equipment from the home of a former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear scientist, who last year sought to work on a fusion project with Venezuela but believes the U.S. government is wrongly targeting him as a spy.
P. Leonardo Mascheroni joined the northern New Mexico lab in 1979, and worked in its X Division, which designs nuclear weapons, until 1987. He was laid off in 1988.
He said he supports a hydrogen-fluoride laser to generate fusion, the energy source of the sun. That type of energy, he says, is cleaner, not radioactive and would produce a more reliable nuclear weapons stockpile.
He said that in the fall of 2007, he approached the Venezuelan government—along with physics departments at universities in England and France—to see about a job to pursue his work. He was contacted in February 2008 by a man who said he represented the Venezuelan government and wanted to learn about starting a weapons program.
The two met twice at a Los Alamos hotel for a total of 90 minutes, Mascheroni said.
"I never passed information which I consider classified to a reporter or to Congress or to anybody," Mascheroni said. "The information I passed is information I got from the Internet."
Mascheroni said he provided the man with a CD containing unclassified information widely available on the Internet. He said he hoped the Venezuelan government would hire him to work on his hydrogen-fluoride laser fusion project in New Mexico, which would help him prove his case to Congress.
He asked that $400,000 be deposited into his Los Alamos bank account, but he was never paid.
The Associated Press