FBI Questions Four Reporters in AIPAC Case

Nathan Guttman - Haaretz - May 16, 2005

WASHINGTON - The Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun questioning reporters who had contact with Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin, who has been charged with disclosing classified information to officials of the AIPAC pro-Israeli lobby in the United States, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Sources close to the investigation told the paper that four reporters have been questioned so far - at least one print journalist and others who have been published on Internet sites.

The affidavit that accompanied the complaint filed against Franklin in a federal court in Virginia mentions charges of conveying classified information to members of the media, but does not detail those accusations. Investigators want to determine whether the reporters in question did indeed received classified information from Franklin when he served as a data analyst at the Pentagon's Middle East desk.

It is not illegal for a reporter to receive classified information, but conveying such information is a crime in the U.S., one that Franklin allegedly committed.

The four reporters were asked to submit voluntarily to interviews by FBI investigators, without having to be subpoenaed. Should they refuse, the federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia that has been convened to investigate the case has the authority to subpoena them.

Franklin's trial is scheduled to open on May 27. He is charged with one count of disclosing classified defense information to unauthorized persons. However, according to the Times, the indictment could be expanded to include additional charges. In that event, pressure would increase on Franklin to cooperate with the prosecution and provide them with incriminating information about two former senior officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who allegedly received the classified information from Franklin.

  • See Also: Franklin/AIPAC Spy Case Page