SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk Lyons, linked by the FBI to a bizarre espionage case, fires off an angry denial and insists he is 'a loyal American.'
Throughout his legal career, Kirk Lyons has often felt the need to defend himself. But his denials have never been as animated and thorough as they were in early February, when Lyons found himself linked to a bizarre espionage case involving top-secret U.S. military documents.
FBI agents testified in January that an old acquaintance of Lyons', Deborah Davila, sent a box of highly sensitive military information in 1999 to what was described as Lyons' organization — presumably, the North Carolina-based Southern Legal Resource Center. The documents, with classified material that the agent said would "have a huge interest to militia and terrorist organizations," allegedly had been stolen by Davila's ex-husband, Rafael, a former military intelligence officer with ties to the radical right.
The investigators' report indicated that Lyons' organization subsequently mailed $2,000 in cash to Davila. But though the indictment of the Davilas mentions Lyons, he was not charged in the case.
Denying any connection to espionage, Lyons fired off a lengthy press release accusing authorities of collaborating with his critics in a "ritual tarring and feathering."
"I am a loyal American who was raised in a military family," Lyons writes. "It is insulting in the extreme for anyone to associate the Lyons name with treason and betrayal of one's countrymen."
Lyons acknowledges that Deborah Davila attended his wedding in 1990 at the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations compound in Idaho, but says she was invited only because his bride had met her through a Scottish dance group. His one other contact with Davila came in 1991, he writes, when she joined some of his associates at the Stone Mountain (Ga.) Highland Games.
"I don't remember if I bought her a coke at the Stone Mountain Games," Lyons writes, "but if I did, that was the last money she ever got from me."
"I have not seen or spoken to her since," Lyons writes. But that hasn't stopped him from rendering judgment: "Deborah is a nice girl," he told The Associated Press, "but she doesn't have the brains to be a spy."
The FBI apparently disagrees. Davila could face life in prison for allegedly shipping boxes of national secrets — so sensitive they were supposed to have been read only in special debugged huts at highly secured military installations — to antigovernment groups in Texas and Georgia as well. (Neither of these groups was named.) Though FBI agent Leland McEuen testified the documents would be "worth millions on the black market," Davila reportedly received nothing more than the $2,000 in cash from North Carolina.
One of the charges against Davila is that she falsely told investigators "she did not recognize Kirk Lyons' name and was certain she never met Kirk Lyons." Lyons probably wishes that were true. As it is, he was left to fall back on his lawyerly skills to mount a vigorous self-defense.
"I told the FBI that I was willing to take a polygraph test on this material to clear my name," he writes in the press release. "I think it is safe to say that if the FBI entertained any serious notions that I received and paid for top secret documents, my office would have already been ransacked and my press conferences would be held behind armored glass in the local Federal 'hotel.'"