A former Pentagon analyst who gave classified information to an Israeli diplomat and two members of a pro-Israel lobbying group was sentenced Friday to more than 12 years in prison.
Lawrence A. Franklin, a policy analyst whose expertise included Iraq and Iran, pleaded guilty in October to three felony counts. Three other counts were dropped as part of the plea deal.
In sentencing Franklin, U.S. District T.S. Ellis III said the facts of the case led him to believe that Franklin was motivated primarily by a desire to help the United States, not hurt it.
The 12-year, 7-month sentence was on the low end of federal sentencing guidelines.
Franklin said at his plea hearing in October that he did not intend to harm the United States and that he was motivated by frustration with U.S. policy in the Middle East when he gave classified information to the diplomat and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
He said he received far more information from the Israeli diplomat than he ever disclosed.
A senior Israeli official said in October that Israel did not activate Franklin.
"I say very clearly that Israel is not spying in the United States or against the United States," chairman of the Israeli parliament's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, Yuval Steinitz, told Army Radio. "The conviction doesn't accuse Israel of activating Franklin or tempting him."
Israelis should not be expected in meetings to distinguish what U.S. defense officials have the authority to tell them, and what they do not, Steinitz said.
Franklin, of Kearneysville, W.Va., said in court that he had hoped the two members of the lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, could influence policy with their connections at the U.S. National Security Council.
The two AIPAC officials who allegedly received the information, Steven Rosen of Silver Spring, Md., and Keith Weissman of Bethesda, Md., also were charged with conspiring to obtain and disclose classified U.S. defense information. AIPAC fired the two men in April 2005 and has denied any wrongdoing. They are scheduled to go to trial in April 2006.
According to the indictment, Franklin met periodically with Rosen and Weissman between 2002 and 2004 and discussed classified information. Rosen and Weissman would subsequently share what they learned with reporters and Israeli officials. On at least one occasion, Franklin spoke directly to an Israeli official.
According to the June 2005 indictment, Franklin met periodically with Rosen and Weissman between 2002 and 2004 and discussed classified information, including information about potential attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.
Rosen and Weissman would subsequently share what they learned with reporters and Israeli officials. On at least one occasion, Franklin spoke directly to an Israeli official.
Rosen, a top lobbyist for Washington-based AIPAC for more than 20 years, and Weissman, the organization's top Iran expert, allegedly disclosed sensitive information as far back as 1999 on a variety of topics, including al Qaeda, terrorist activities in Central Asia, the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia and U.S. policy in Iran, according to the indictment.
Franklin at one time worked for the Pentagon's No. 3 official, policy undersecretary Douglas Feith, on issues involving Iran and the Middle East.
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