U.S. to announce new charges in Pentagon probe


By James Vicini
2 hours, 2 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors plan to announce additional charges on Thursday against a Defense Department analyst accused of illegally disclosing classified defense information, and to charge two former officials of a pro- Israel lobbying group, government sources said.

The additional charges involve Lawrence Franklin, a Pentagon analyst already accused of giving the information to two former employees of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the two sources said.

They said prosectors planned to announce charges against Steve Rosen, formerly AIPAC's policy director, and Keith Weissman, formerly its senior analyst.

In Alexandria, Virginia, where the case has been pending, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty scheduled a news conference at 2 p.m./1800 GMT) for an announcement "related to a major national security prosecution."

Franklin, who worked on the Iran desk within the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the time the government says he disclosed the information, previously was charged with disclosing top-secret information about potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq to the two AIPAC employees.

He also has been charged with disclosing to a foreign diplomat classified information about a Middle Eastern country's activities in Iraq. Sources familiar with the investigation have said the diplomat was an Israeli.

Franklin previously has pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Plato Cacheris, said he did not know for sure what prosecutors planned to announce, but added that they had long threatened to bring charges against the two former AIPAC employees.

AIPAC fired the two men in April. A spokesman for lawyer Abbe Lowell, who represents Rosen, declined to comment. Justice Department officials declined to comment on McNulty's announcement.

The Israeli diplomat in Washington who met several times with Franklin has been identified as Naor Gilon, head of the political department at Israel's Embassy in Washington and a specialist on proliferation issues.

Gilon returned to Israel a few days ago, according to an Israeli source. "He was scheduled to leave. It's been in the works for months as part of the normal diplomatic rotation," the source said.

U.S. investigators want to question Gilon and other Israeli diplomats about their contacts with Franklin.

Without going into specifics, the Israeli source said: "At the request of the U.S. government, we're cooperating in this investigation."