Franklin Case Goes to Grand Jury

Pepper Ballard - The Herald-Mail Online - June 10, 2005

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Probable cause was found Thursday at the U.S. District Courthouse in Martinsburg to send to a grand jury a charge that a Pentagon analyst illegally took classified government documents to his Kearneysville, W.Va., home.

The charge against Lawrence Anthony Franklin, 58, who holds a doctorate in Asian studies and taught history courses at Shepherd University for the past five years, will be referred to the next grand jury, U.S. Magistrate Judge David J. Joel said Thursday after his finding at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

"Dr. Franklin knowingly and unlawfully possessed classified documents in a place he was not permitted to keep them," Joel said. "He admitted he possessed these documents."

Franklin faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of the charge.

A June 30, 2004, search of Franklin's home turned up 83 classified documents, 37 of which were classified as top secret, meaning the release of which would cause "exceptionally great damage" to national security, and 34 of which were classified as secret, meaning the release of which would cause "great damage" to national security, FBI Special Agent Thomas Convoy, who specializes in counterterrorism and espionage, testified Thursday.

The charge centered on six documents, written between October 2003 and June 2004, which included CIA documents about al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, terrorism documents and an Iraq memorandum, Convoy testified.

Franklin was authorized to carry classified documents in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., but not in West Virginia, Convoy testified.

Convoy testified that Franklin was a member of the Department of Defense since 1979 and held top-secret clearance since then, but it since has been revoked.

Franklin's attorney, Plato Cacheris, contended that his client was inappropriately charged.

"There is no allegation in this complaint that he intended to injure the U.S.," Cacheris said. He said that such an allegation would have needed to support the claim that Franklin unlawfully held the documents.

Franklin, wearing a dark suit, sat behind Cacheris' chair throughout the hearing, nearly motionless.

Cacheris said Franklin "had those documents in his home because he was preparing for an interview" for a government position.

Convoy testified Franklin was under surveillance prior to the search.

"Did you see him transmit those documents to any unauthorized people?" Cacheris asked Convoy.

"No, I did not," he responded.

U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Johnston, of West Virginia's northern district, said Franklin "was not authorized to retain these documents, at least at his home."

"There is no evidence he delivered them to the employee or officer of the U.S. intended to receive them," he said.

Johnston said Cacheris' contention that he had to show intent to cause injury to the country "does not apply to this particular charge."

Joel, in announcing his finding, said, "Whether or not the government properly charged" Franklin is "a matter for another day."

In May, Franklin was charged with providing top-secret information about potential attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq to two executives of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the influential pro-Israel lobbying group.

Already out on $100,000 bond on the May charge, Franklin was released after this most-recent charge on $50,000 bond. Joel ordered Thursday that Franklin continue on his present bond.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.