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Marines drop charges against Bracy for lack of evidence

A crowd of friends and neighbors welcomed Cpl. Arnold Bracy as he returned home Saturday, a day after the Marine Corps dropped spy charges against the former US Embassy guard in Moscow. While the Marine Corps said it was dropping the charges because prosecutors didn't have sufficient independent evidence to prove the allegations, Corporal Bracy denied that he did anything wrong.

``I didn't do any of the things they accused me of doing, because none of those things ever happened,'' said Bracy, in New York City after three months of imprisonment on charges of spying for the Soviets.

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Bracy's chief counsel, Lt. Col. Michael Powell, contended that the Naval Intelligence Service improperly used polygraphs to coerce a confession from Bracy.

The former embassy guard told reporters Friday that he was approached by a Russian woman who worked as a cook at the US Embassy in Moscow in June 1986. He said she wasn't specific, but he believed she was trying to recruit him as a spy, and he immediately rebuffed her, reporting that to his commander. About three weeks later, he visited the woman to say he was upset the Soviets even thought he would be interested in being a spy. However, he did not report that encounter to his commander.

The Marine Corps had alleged that Bracy, as well as another embassy guard, Sgt. Clayton J. Lonetree, became involved sexually with Soviet women, who in turn allegedly introduced them to a Soviet agent. Bracy denied on Friday that he had any sexual contact with the Russian.

``My mistake was that I didn't report'' the second meeting, Bracy said.

Bracy had been accused of serving as a lookout for Sergeant Lonetree during alleged forays by Soviet agents inside the embassy building. The charge stemmed from an incriminating statement he was said to have given military investigators shortly before his arrest. Bracy later recanted that statement, however, with his attorneys charging it had been coerced.

Without that statement, a Pentagon source said, the corps didn't have enough corroborating evidence to prove espionage.

The decision to drop charges against Bracy marks a second setback in handling the prosecution case against Bracy and Lonetree, the first Marine arrested in the case. Lonetree has been ordered to stand a general court-martial on espionage charges involving his alleged passing of classified documents and other information to Soviet agents. But the Marine Corps last month was forced to set aside the most sensational charges against him, namely that he had escorted agents through the embassy last year.

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Bracy said he would be home for 10 days and then decide whether to stay with the Marines or go to college.

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