Source Pravda.Ru

Larry Franklin: sell of U.S. secrets

A &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/08/27/35356.html ' target=_blank>Pentagon analyst was arrested Wednesday and charged with giving classified information about potential attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq to employees of a pro-Israel group.

Larry Franklin, a 58-year-old Air Force Reserves colonel who once worked for the Pentagon's No. 3 official, is the first person charged in a long-running investigation into whether Israel improperly obtained U.S. secrets.

Twice last year FBI agents searched the offices of the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/08/01/33608.html ' target=_blank>American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a lobbying organization influential on U.S.-Israeli relations. It was once thought AIPAC might be a target of the probe, but that's not the case, according to two knowledgeable people. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because the probe is still under way.

One of the people is someone familiar with the group's role in the probe; the other is a federal law enforcement official. They said the FBI is focusing on whether any classified information reached Israel, informs ABC News.

Franklin told the pair the information was "highly classified" and asked them not to "use" it, according to the court documents.

The two individuals were not named in the court documents, but federal law enforcement officials said they were both senior employees that AIPAC dismissed last month -- policy director Steve Rosen and senior analyst Keith Weissman.

"Steve Rosen never solicited, received, or passed on any classified documents from Larry Franklin and Mr. Franklin will never be able to say otherwise," his attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement. Weissman's attorney, John Nassikas, had no comment.

The Justice Department said its investigation was continuing. AIPAC declined to comment, but a source close to the lobbying group said it has been advised by the government that it is not a target of the investigation.