Israel did not activate U.S. Defense Department employee, officials says

A senior Israeli official said Thursday that Israel did not activate a U.S. Defense Department employee who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges for passing classified information to Israeli officials.

The defense analyst, Lawrence A. Franklin, has admitted to discussing with an Israeli embassy official and two members of Israeli lobbying group top secret information, including details about potential attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.

The chairman of the Israeli parliament's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, Yuval Steinitz, said Thursday that Israel had not known about Franklin's actions.

"I say very clearly that Israel is not spying in the United States or against the United States," Steinitz told Army Radio. "The conviction doesn't accuse Israel of activating Franklin."

Steinitz said he had just returned from "very friendly" meetings with senior defense officials in the United States, including a deputy to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The case did not come up in the meetings, Steinitz said.

Franklin has pleaded guilty to two conspiracy counts and a charge of unlawful retention of national defense information, reports the AP.

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