- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2005

Two former employees of a pro-Israel lobbying group were indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Virginia on charges of illegally receiving and disclosing classified U.S. defense information they obtained from a veteran Pentagon analyst — who was arrested in May on charges of leaking secret documents.

Steven J. Rosen, of Silver Spring, a 63-year-old former director of foreign policy issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and Keith Weissman, of Bethesda, a 53-year-old former senior Iran analyst at the organization, were accused of receiving national defense information and giving it to unauthorized persons, including an agent of a foreign government.

The analyst, Lawrence A. Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W. Va., was arrested by the FBI on charges of illegally disclosing classified information — nearly two years after he first was identified as suspected of having passed national security documents involving Iran to AIPAC.

Mr. Franklin, who has pleaded not guilty in the case, has been a Defense Department employee since 1979 and held a “top secret” security clearance.

“Those entrusted with safeguarding our nation’s secrets must remain faithful to that trust,” said U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty. “Those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be.”

Arraignment for the three men is scheduled for Aug. 16 before U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria.

The indictment said Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, in an effort to “influence persons within and outside the United States,” cultivated relationships with Mr. Franklin and others “to gather sensitive U.S. government information, including classified information relating to the national defense.”

It said the two men disclosed sensitive information as far back as 1999 on a variety of topics, including terrorist activities in Central Asia, the bombing of the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia, the activities of terror network al Qaeda, and U.S. policy in Iran, to American and foreign government officials and reporters. The indictment said their relationship with Mr. Franklin began in February 2003.

Mr. Franklin has been under investigation by the FBI for more than three years, accused of handing over classified Defense Department documents on Iran to officials at AIPAC, which then were passed to Israel.

The FBI began surveillance of Mr. Franklin, Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman more than two years ago. The surveillance also is thought to have targeted Naor Gilon, a political adviser at the Israeli Embassy in the District. Last year, FBI agents copied Mr. Rosen’s computer hard drive at his AIPAC office after interviews with him and Mr. Weissman.

AIPAC and the Israeli Embassy have denied any wrongdoing. Attorneys for Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, who left AIPAC in April, have denied any wrongdoing by their clients.

An affidavit by FBI agent Catherine M. Hanna said Mr. Franklin gave a classified document on potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq to two unidentified persons with whom he met for lunch June 26, 2003, at an Arlington restaurant.

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