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The CIA declined to comment for this report.

“I was not getting classified documents,” said Mr. Rosen, who is suing AIPAC for defamation. “The FBI followed me around for five years, they searched my office and searched my home, and they never found any classified documents, because there were none to find.”

U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty eventually charged Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman with conspiring to disclose defense information, or leaking.

But the U.S. Attorney dropped those charges in 2009 after civil liberties groups argued that the prosecution set a precedent of indicting private citizens who did not hold security clearances for leaking. To date, only U.S. officials who hold security clearances have been convicted under the anti-leak provisions of the espionage statute.

More important, the prosecuting attorneys during pretrial motions acknowledged that the AIPAC officials were not acting as agents of a foreign power.

“The fact that the defendants were not agents of Israel, or any foreign nation, does not negate any element of the offense, and cannot be exculpatory,” the U.S. attorneys wrote in a 2006 response to motions from the defendants in the case.

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said in response to queries about the AIPAC investigation: “The FBI is charged with following through on all investigative leads, and we would have done so in this case whether or not they resulted in prosecutive action.”

The FBI search warrant describes what it stated was Mr. Rosen’s pattern of collecting information through routine meetings with U.S. government officials, reporters and Israeli diplomats — activities that scores of lobbyists, activists, diplomats, analysts and journalists engage in every day in Washington.

Rosen uses his contacts within the United States government to obtain classified United States government information, which he in turn passes on to officials from a foreign government (Country 1), members of the media and other persons not authorized to receive classified information in an effort to influence United States government policies and benefit Country 1,” according to the affidavit.

“I worked for a pro-Israel organization that very openly maintains relations with the Embassy of Israel,” Mr. Rosen said. “All of these officials knew very well I met with members of the Israeli Embassy. The U.S. government considered openly that we were in a kind of triangle with the Israeli government.

“It was part of the work, as I am sure it is today part of the work for AIPAC officials.”

For decades, the federal government has at times looked into AIPAC, a lobby that is composed of U.S. citizens who advocate for closer ties between the U.S. and Israel.

AIPAC spokesman Patrick Dorton said in a statement: “Any suggestion that any AIPAC employee has ever been an agent of a foreign power is patently false. AIPAC is an American organization that represents American citizens and advocates for American interests.”

Nonetheless, the FBI has been suspicious. Morris Amitay, AIPAC’s executive director from 1974 to 1980, said that when he headed the organization, “two agents from the Department of Justice showed up unannounced and said they were investigating whether AIPAC should register as a foreign agent, as opposed to a domestic foreign-lobbying organization.”

Mr. Amitay said: “I invited them to look at all of our records and to speak to any employee they wished, but I assured them that, as an attorney myself, I was conversant with the Foreign Agents Registration Act and that AIPAC was scrupulous to avoid crossing any line to have to register as foreign agents.”

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