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On May 1, Dana J. Boente, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement that when Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman were indicted, “the government believed it could prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt based on the [espionage] statute.”

However, subsequent unfavorable court rulings produced a “diminished likelihood” of winning at trial and the case was dropped, he said.

The government was then required to submit a motion to reduce Franklin’s sentence based on the plea agreement and sought an eight-year prison term. However, based on his attorney’s appeal for no prison time, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis sentenced him on June 11 to probation.

Franklin said his cooperation with the government was a factor in the judge’s decision to reduce the sentence.

“I didn’t do anything morally wrong,” Franklin said. “I was totally motivated by love of this republic and knowingly risked my job, my clearance and the welfare of my family because I thought it was important to do.”

Franklin also illegally kept 83 classified documents at his house in West Virginia but said he did so “because I needed to keep up my expertise that both the secretary and deputy secretary [of defense] — that is [Donald] Rumsfeld and [Paul] Wolfowitz — depended upon.

“I never showed a document, never gave a document to anyone ever,” he told The Times. “The only other illegality I performed was I talked — blurted out on May 20, 2004, over a phone call from CBS, from “60 Minutes.” They were doing a show on Chalabi, and I said: ‘Don’t ask me for any good news about Chalabi ‘cause he had just met with a nefarious Iranian who was guilty of killing Americans.’ ”

Mr. Cacheris, Franklin’s attorney, said that the FBI sought the guilty plea from Franklin because the Bureau hoped to use his testimony in its case against AIPAC and that it did not make any promises to him in exchange for the cooperation.

“Unfortunately, Larry wasn’t astute enough to find out during the time of his cooperation what was going to happen,” Mr. Cacheris said.

Franklin said he agreed to the plea deal because he hoped it would keep him out of jail so he could take care of his seriously ill wife. He thanked Mr. Cacheris for coming to his rescue in the case.

Once one of the U.S. government’s leading intelligence and policy analysts on Iran, Franklin said he does not favor using force to take out Iran’s nuclear program.

“I’m not in favor of an attack,” he said, noting that he wrote an internal paper in the late 1990s on Israel, Iran and nuclear weapons.

Franklin said U.S. policy should be “regime change without war,” and he had a list of eight or nine things that could be done to help the Iranian people overthrow that regime. He said he hopes to give some advice to President Obama or his staff on how to deal with Tehran.

Iran, he said, was able to put down recent protests over the disputed presidential election because the opposition forces do not have strong leaders and lack a cohesive ideology.

Franklin said the key to ousting the cleric-backed regime is for Iranians to launch a “Ghandi-esque” nationwide strike that would bring the ruling leadership to a standstill and prompt the regime to use force against the opposition.

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