ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A former Pentagon analyst was sentenced Friday to more than 12 years in prison for giving classified information to an Israeli diplomat and members of a pro-Israel lobbying group.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said he gave Lawrence A. Franklin a sentence on the low end of federal guidelines because it appeared Franklin was trying help the United States, not hurt it.
The judge also agreed to let Franklin remain free while the government continues with the wider case. His prison time could be sharply reduced in return for his help in prosecuting two former members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Franklin - who had worked with top Pentagon officials, including Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy, and has expertise on Iraq and Iran - pleaded guilty in October to three felony counts. Three other counts were dropped in exchange.
Franklin, 59, did not speak at his sentencing.
At his plea hearing, he said he was motivated by frustration with U.S. policy in the Middle East when he gave the classified information to the diplomat and AIPAC. He said he received far more information from the Israeli diplomat than he ever disclosed and did not intend to harm the United States.
The two former AIPAC members, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, are scheduled to go on trial in April. Their lawyers have argued the two were engaged in routine lobbying work.
The judge said Friday that Franklin believed the National Security Council was insufficiently concerned with the threat posed by an unspecified Middle Eastern nation. Franklin thought leaking information might eventually persuade the Security Council to take more serious action, he said.
While the Middle Eastern country was not identified in the court record, sources and facts in the case point to Iran.
Ellis said he viewed Franklin's case differently from 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.
Franklin admitted that he met periodically with Rosen and Weissman between 2002 and 2004 and discussed classified information, including information about potential attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. Rosen and Weissman would later share what they learned with reporters and Israeli officials.
Rosen was a top lobbyist for Washington-based AIPAC for more than 20 years, and Weissman was the organization's top Iran expert. AIPAC fired them in April and said it has cooperated with the investigation.