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Last update - 01:18 05/05/2005
FBI charges Pentagon analyst in AIPAC affair
By Nathan Guttman
WASHINGTON - Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin was formally charged yesterday with passing classified military information about Iraq to two individuals, believed to be former officials of the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC.
Franklin, an analyst on the Iranian desk in the Pentagon, turned himself in to the FBI yesterday morning and was placed under arrest. He made a brief appearance in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., and was released on $100,000 bond on condition he surrender his firearms and passport. A preliminary hearing was set for May 27. Franklin's lawyer, John Richards, said he expects his client will plead innocent. If convicted he faces up to 10 years in prison.
The charges made no mention of suspected espionage; that Franklin knowingly helped a foreign government, as originally reported when the scandal was revealed last summer; nor of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or the state of Israel.
Nonetheless, official sources involved in the inquiry say that AIPAC officials are suspected of receiving the secret information. The Justice Department said that the investigation continues, which presumably means focusing on the two former AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, who allegedly received the information, as well as on the activities of the lobbying group. That kind of probe could end with indictments against the two or a plea bargain. Rosen and Weissman were fired by AIPAC last month.
'Steve Rosen never solicited, received or passed on any classified documents from Larry Franklin, and Mister Franklin will never be able to say otherwise,' Rosen's attorney"