Report: US to indict two senior Jewish figures under Espionage Act
The U.S. Justice Department is expected to file indictments against two former top American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) staffers - Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman - and, according to sources familiar with the affair, the charges will be subsumed under the Espionage Act, the Tel-Aviv based HaAretz reported Monday.
AIPAC is a special interest group that lobbies the US Congress on behalf of Israeli interests as it sees them. It describes itself as "America's Pro-Israel Lobby".
A Virginia grand jury is currently examining the evidence in the case, which involved receipt of classified defense information from Larry Franklin, a Pentagon official, and its transfer to the representative of a foreign country, Naor Gilon, of the Israeli embassy in Washington.
Sources involved in the case confirmed that the Espionage Act is on the agenda. However, there is also the possibility that the Justice Department is raising the intention to use that law with the purpose of reaching a plea bargain concerning a lesser offense, albeit one that is still covered by anti-espionage legislation in the U.S, the report said.
According to the sources, the grand jury will submit indictments in the coming weeks against Rosen, the former head of foreign policy for the lobbying organization, and against Weissman, who was responsible for the Iranian brief in AIPAC.
The grand jury is expected to hand down its indictment against Franklin this week. He is suspected of handing over the classified information. That indictment is expected to be similar to the criminal complaint already filed by the FBI.
The classified material is said to involve information about Iranian intentions to harm U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and it was supposedly given to the two former AIPAC staffers during lunch in Virginia on June 26, 2003. But suspicions against Rosen and Weissman focus on a meeting a year later.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)