Two Israel lobbyists charged in Pentagon information leak

Two former employees of a pro-Israel lobbying organization were indicted Thursday on charges they conspired to obtain and disclose classified U.S. defense information.

An indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., named Steven Rosen, formerly the director of foreign policy issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Keith Weissman, the organization's former senior Iran analyst.

The five-count indictment also spells out in greater detail the government's case against Pentagon analyst Lawrence A. Franklin, who already was facing charges that he leaked classified military information to an Israeli official and the AIPAC employees. Rosen and Weissman disclosed sensitive information as far back as 1999 on a variety of topics that included terrorist activities in Central Asia, the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, al-Qaida and U.S. policy in Iran, the indictment said. Among their contacts were U.S. and foreign government officials and reporters, the indictment said.

Lawyers for Rosen and Weissman denied the accusations. “The charges in the indictment announced today are entirely unjustified,” said Abbe Lowell, Rosen's attorney. John Nassikas, Weissman's lawyer, said, “We are disappointed that the government has decided to pursue these charges, which Mr. Weissman strongly denies,” reports Guardian.

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

Gilon returned to Israel a few days ago as part of a long-scheduled rotation, according to an Israeli official in Washington.

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

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