- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

A veteran Pentagon analyst accused of using his Defense Department position to illegally disclose classified information to officials at an influential pro-Israeli lobbying group is expected to plead guilty in the case, although sources said yesterday that no final deal had been reached.

Lawrence A. Franklin was named in a six-count grand jury indictment handed up in federal court in Virginia in May, accusing him of disclosing the information to two officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He is tentatively scheduled to enter a plea Wednesday.

A statement by the U.S. District Court in Alexandria said it was not clear to what charges Mr. Franklin might admit, and a court official noted that any plea agreement in the case could collapse overnight.

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 relayed the data 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 also said Mr. Franklin met with a 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 agent, although he is thought to be Naor Gilon, political adviser at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

Last month, Mr. Franklin, a specialist on Iran, pleaded not guilty to all counts during a hearing before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria.

The two AIPAC officials also charged in the case are Steven J. Rosen, 63, of Silver Spring, former director of foreign policy issues for the organization, and Keith Weissman, 53, of Bethesda, former senior Iran analyst at AIPAC.

The indictment outlines an extensive FBI undercover investigation dating to 1999, when conversations between Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman with officials from foreign countries and others were monitored. It said the AIPAC officials illegally disclosed information from classified reports, including data on terrorist activities in Central Asia, the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, U.S. strategy options in the Middle East and al Qaeda terrorists.

Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman have vigorously denied the accusations and pleaded not guilty in the case. The three were scheduled for trial in January.

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

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