Barnett, formerly a Central Intelligence Agency case officer assigned to Indonesia who had spent three years in Jakarta, resigned in 1970 to go into a local business, which subsequently had failed, leaving him with debts of $100,000. Barnett offered to supply the KGB with information concerning a clandestine operation, code-named HA/BRINK, that had focused on the acquisition of examples of Soviet military hardware sold to the Indonesians, including an SA-2 guidance system, designs for the Whiskey-class submarine, a destroyer, a cruiser, and the Tu-16 Badger twin-engine bomber. He had supplied this information between 1976 and 1977, together with the identities of 30 CIA officers for a total of $92,000.
In 1979 Barnett was identified as a spy by one of his KGB handlers, Col. Vladimir M. Piguzov, code-named GT/JOGGER, and in April the following year he was spotted meeting KGB officers in Vienna.
He was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation upon his return to the United States. In October 1980 Barnett pleaded guilty to espionage charges, admitting that he had sold CIA secrets to the Soviets. He was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment and was paroled in 1990.