Two former officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, pleaded not guilty in district court here yesterday to charges of unlawfully receiving classified defense information.
In their first court appearance, Rosen and Weissman sat on the defendant's bench next to Larry Franklin, the third codefendant, who allegedly passed them classified information dealing with Iran and with threats to Israeli operatives in northern Iraq.
Judge T.S. Ellis set the trial date for January 3 after all three waived their right to a speedy trial process.
Ellis made clear that he did not wish to postpone the trial any longer and set several dates for hearing motions concerning the case during October.
Rosen and Weissman were released on $100,000 bail each and were ordered to surrender their passports to their lawyers. They will not be allowed to travel outside the Washington area without prior consent from the court.
Rosen, former policy director at AIPAC, and Weissman, its Iran specialist, are accused of receiving classified information from Larry Franklin, a mid-level analyst in the Iran desk of the Pentagon, over the past four years. The federal indictment details contacts, monitored by FBI surveillance teams, in which Franklin transferred classified defense information to the two.
US Attorney Kevin DiGregory told the court that the classified information passed on by Franklin related to five separate documents that would be part of the evidence presented.
Rosen and Weissman were fired from AIPAC several months ago, following FBI allegations they were aware of the fact that the information they received from Franklin was classified. The indictment also alleged that they passed on classified information to officials in the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
The Department of Justice has expressed interest in interviewing some of the Israeli diplomats who were in touch with the Franklin and with the two AIPAC officials. They were not mentioned by name in the indictment, but sources close to the case said that the main contact person for Franklin in the embassy was Naor Gilon, the former political officer. The other two officials mentioned in the indictment are Ambassador Danny Ayalon and Rafi Barak, the former deputy chief of mission.