Guilty plea expected in Aipac case

Sept. 29, 2005 at 10:52 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A former Defense Department expert on the Middle East charged with passing classified information to pro-Israel lobbyists will reportedly plead guilty.

The New York Times reports prosecutors said Lawrence Franklin will enter a formal plea next week in federal court in Alexandria, Va. Additional charges in federal court in West Virginia -- that he illegally kept classified documents at his home -- will be consolidated with the Virginia case.

Franklin, who joined the Defense Department in 1979, allegedly gave information on Iran and Iraq to Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, officials with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. They also face criminal charges and have resigned from AIPAC.

While the Justice Department has released no information beyond the bare fact of a plea, Franklin may have agreed to cooperate and testify against Rosen and Weissman in exchange for a reduced sentence. He cooperated briefly with federal investigators at the beginning of the case, stopping when he realized he could face criminal charges, the Times reported.

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