A former Defense Intelligence Agency official was sentenced to 30 months in prison Thursday for leaking classified information to two journalists, including one with whom he was in a relationship.
Henry Kyle Frese, 31, pleaded guilty in February to the willful transmission of Top Secret national defense information. He admitted sharing top-secret defense reports with the reporters, including details on China’s weapons systems, in 2018 and 2019.
He had faced up to 10 years in prison.
“When our nation’s secrets are published, in print or online, those secrets are made available to all of our adversaries,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Frese’s choice to betray his oath to his country had real consequences and caused actual harm to the safety of this country and its citizens.”
Frese held a top-secret clearance at the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he started as a contractor in January 2017 before becoming a full-time employee. He was arrested in October when he arrived at work.
An article on China’s defenses was one of at least eight articles written by two NBC-affiliated journalists based on intelligence reports Frese leaked, according to court documents.
The journalists were not identified in the indictment, but public tweets cited in court filings correspond with stories written by Amanda Macias, a CNBC reporter, and Courtney Kube, a reporter for NBC. Neither reporter nor NBC News responded to requests for comment. Ms. Kube covers national security and the military, and Ms. Macias reports on the Pentagon.
Neither has been charged with a crime.
Ms. Macias is thought to have had a romantic relationship with Frese because they lived together and appeared in each other’s social media posts, prosecutors said.
Between mid-April and early May 2018, Frese took the classified intelligence reports, some of which were unrelated to his job duties, and transmitted them to Ms. Macias using his cellphone, prosecutors said.
Ms. Macias then asked her paramour if he could help out Ms. Kube. According to court documents, Frese said he was “down” with helping Ms. Kube because it would help her “progress.” She also published an article based on Frese’s leaks.
John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department said the sentence demonstrates the department’s commitment to prosecuting leak cases.
“Frese repeatedly passed classified information to a reporter, sometimes in response to her requests, all for personal gain,” he said in a statement. “When this information was published, it was shared with all of our nation’s adversaries, creating a risk of exceptionally grave harm to the security of this country.”