ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former Pentagon analyst who gave classified information to an Israeli diplomat and two members of a pro-Israel lobbying group was sentenced Friday to more than 12 years in prison.
Lawrence A. Franklin, 59, a policy analyst whose expertise included Iraq and Iran, pleaded guilty in October to three felony counts in exchange for having three other counts dropped.
In sentencing Franklin, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said the facts of the case led him to believe that Franklin was motivated primarily by a desire to help the United States, not hurt it.
The 12-year, 7-month sentence was on the low end of federal sentencing guidelines.
Franklin said at his plea hearing in October that he did not intend to harm the United States and that he was motivated by frustration with U.S. policy in the Middle East when he gave classified information to the diplomat and the .
He said he received far more information from the Israeli diplomat than he ever disclosed.
The two former AIPAC members, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, have also been charged and are scheduled to go to trial in April. Their lawyers have argued the two were engaged in routine lobbying work and their discussions with Franklin are protected under First Amendment guarantees of free speech.
Franklin will not serve his prison term until after the government's prosecution of Rosen and Weissman, and prosecutors may seek a reduction of Franklin's sentence if they believe his cooperation warrants it.
Ellis said Franklin believed the National Security Council was insufficiently concerned with the threat posed by an unspecified Middle Eastern nation and that Franklin thought leaking information might eventually persuade the Security Council to take more serious action.
While the Middle Eastern country was not named in the court record, sources and the facts of the case point to Iran.
Ellis said he viewed Franklin's case differently than a case involving information leaked to the Soviets at height of the Cold War.
"But not different to the extent of excuse. Not at all," Ellis said.