AIPAC Defense Wants Israelis' Testimony

Nathan Guttman - The Jerusalem Post - Oct. 25, 2005

Lawyers representing Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, the two former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) staffers accused of communicating classified information, wish to call to the stand three Israeli diplomats that received information from the defendants as well as from the third defendant in the case, Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin.

The defendants' lawyers declared their intention to summon the three Israelis in a court notice filed Friday at the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Though the they were not named in the legal documents, Israeli and US sources have confirmed that two of the Israelis involved in the case are Naor Gilon, the former political officer in the Israeli embassy in Washington, and Rafi Barak, the former deputy chief of mission.

"Counsel for the defendants are presently attempting to secure the appearance of these witnesses at trial, either voluntarily or pursuant to subpoena," wrote attorneys for the two AIPAC defendants in a letter to Judge T.S. Ellis.

All three Israelis mentioned in the Rosen-Weissman indictment are no longer in Washington and all have diplomatic immunity, which prevents them from being subpoenaed by either side in the case.

In their letter, the defense stated that if a personal testimony in court was not possible, they would seek depositions from the Israeli witnesses. The letter also said that early notice of the Israeli witnesses was given to the court because of the difficulty in making sure they would actually testify.

David Siegel, spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Washington, confirmed that the lawyers representing the embassy had received a notice from the defendants requesting the testimony and that the request was being examined.

The prosecution is also interested in interviewing the three Israelis, but the US and Israel have not yet reached an understanding regarding the method with which the interviews will be conducted.

The August indictment against the former AIPAC employees accuses them of unlawfully receiving classified information from Franklin and passing on that information to journalists and Israeli diplomats. Franklin, in a plea bargain reached with the prosecution, pleaded guilty to several charges and agreed to testify against Rosen and Weissman.

The trial is due to begin January 3 in the US district court in Alexandria.

The opposing sides are at odds over revealing the recordings of conversations Rosen and Weissman had with Franklin and other individuals. These conversations were recorded by the FBI over a period of five years.

The prosecution, citing national security concerns, refuses to allow the defense to review all wiretap tapes of Rosen and Weissman phone calls. Attorneys for the defendants claim that there is no legal base for depriving their clients of access to recordings of conversations that they themselves conducted. The court will deal with this question in early November.

  • See Also: The Franklin/AIPAC Spy Case Page