WASHINGTON – A Pentagon analyst has been indicted on charges that he leaked classified military information to employees of a pro-Israel lobbying organization and an Israeli official, federal authorities said Monday.
The six-count indictment charges that Lawrence A. Franklin (search) conspired to disclose national defense and classified information to people not entitled to receive it, including information about potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.
None of the charges involves espionage (search). An FBI agent's affidavit that accompanied the criminal complaint against Franklin last month did not suggest that the disclosure endangered U.S. troops, but it said intelligence sources could have been compromised.
Franklin, a 58-year-old Air Force Reserve colonel who once worked for the Pentagon's No. 3 official, pleaded innocent to all counts Monday at a hearing in federal court in Alexandria, Va.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III set a Sept. 6 trial.
The FBI's long-running investigation has focused on whether Franklin, of Kearneysville, W.Va., passed classified U.S. material on Iran to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the influential main Israeli lobbying organization in Washington, and whether that group in turn passed it on to Israel. Both AIPAC (search) and Israel deny any wrongdoing.
People familiar with the investigation have said AIPAC no longer is a target. But the indictment identifies two unindicted co-conspirators who were employees of a Washington lobbying organization.
Law enforcement officials have previously identified them as Steve Rosen, who was AIPAC's director of research, and Keith Weissman, who was its deputy director of foreign policy issues. Neither still works for the group. Both have been interviewed by the FBI but neither has been charged.
The indictment includes a description of Franklin's luncheon meeting in June 2003 that law enforcement officials previously said was attended by Rosen and Weissman.
Abbe Lowell, Rosen's lawyer, was at the courthouse Monday. He declined to comment. John Nassikas, Weissman's lawyer, did not immediately provide comment.
The indictment provided a few new details about Franklin's alleged actions, including that the AIPAC officials saw Franklin as a potentially valuable source of information and cultivated him over the course of a year through meals and, on one occasion, tickets to a Baltimore Orioles game.
Franklin's motives may have included advancing his career, the indictment said. Franklin and Rosen at one point discussed Franklin's chances of getting a job on the staff of the National Security Council. Rosen told him such a job would put Franklin "by the elbow of the president," the indictment said.
Franklin asked Rosen "to put in a good word," the indictment said.
Franklin also is alleged to have passed classified information about a Middle Eastern country to a staff member at an embassy in Washington. While not identified in the indictment, the foreign official is Israeli and the country at issue is Iran, a federal law enforcement official said on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.
The indictment was handed up May 26 but not unsealed until Monday.