Jerome A. Cohen, professor of Law, said yesterday that John Downey was "undoubtedly" a Central Intelligence Agency agent when he was shot down over China in 1952.
Downey, of New Britain, Conn., has been a prisoner of the Chinese since then and recently had his life sentence reduced to include only five more years.
Richard Fecteau, of Lynn, who was with Downey when their plane went down on a flight from Japan to Korea, was released recently after serving 19 years in prison.
Cohen said he and Downey attended a CIA recruitment briefing at Yale University in the early fifties, and when asked if he thought Downey was in fact an agent at the time of his capture, he replied. "Undoubtedly."
The Federal government has maintained that Downey and Fecteau were civilian employees of the Army, but the Chinese claimed they were on a mission to drop Nationalist Chinese agents on the mainland.