- The Washington Times - Monday, June 13, 2005

Pentagon analyst Lawrence A. Franklin used his Defense Department position to illegally disclose classified information to a pro-Israeli lobbying group, including a top-secret document about potential attacks on U.S. forces by Iranian-backed insurgents in Iraq, according to a six-count federal grand-jury indictment unsealed yesterday.

The indictment, handed up in May but made public yesterday, said Mr. Franklin gave the information to officials at a Washington-based lobbying organization, previously identified as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and to an agent of a foreign government, thought to be Naor Gilon, political adviser at the Israeli Embassy in Washington .

The 20-page indictment said Mr. Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W.Va., arranged for and set the agendas for meetings with those to whom he gave the documents and acted on requests for more information. The government said the disclosed information could have been used ?to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation.?

The indictment said Mr. Franklin met with the foreign government agent near the Israeli Embassy in Washington in January 2003 and discussed ?a Middle Eastern country’s nuclear program.? The indictment did not identify the country.

Mr. Franklin pleaded not guilty to all counts during a hearing in federal court in Alexandria. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III set the trial for Sept. 6.

An Air Force Reserve colonel and a Defense Department employee since 1979, Mr. Franklin has been under investigation by the FBI for more than three years. He first was accused of handing over to officials at AIPAC classified Defense Department documents on Iran, which then were passed to Israel.

Law-enforcement authorities said an initial investigation was compromised by press leaks, but was continued at the behest of U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty in Virginia.

The FBI began surveillance of Mr. Franklin, who specialized in Iranian affairs within the policy branch of the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Donald H. Rumsfeld. Authorities said the probe also focused on AIPAC officials Steven Rosen, the group’s foreign-policy director, and Keith Weissman, an analyst specializing on Iran.

AIPAC and the Israeli Embassy have denied any wrongdoing. Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman have left the organization.

FBI Agent Catherine M. Hanna said in an affidavit that Mr. Franklin gave a classified document about potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq to two unidentified persons whom he met for lunch June 26, 2003, at an Arlington restaurant. The affidavit said the document was designated as top-secret, and the two men who received it did not have the necessary security clearances.

AIPAC, founded in the 1950s, states on its Web site that its missions include ?stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, fighting terrorism and achieving peace.?

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