ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A former Pentagon analyst who gave classified information to an Israeli diplomat and two members of a pro-Israel lobbying group was sentenced yesterday to more than 12 years in prison.
Lawrence A. Franklin, 59, had worked with top Pentagon officials, including former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith, and has expertise on Iraq and Iran. He pleaded guilty in October to three felony counts in exchange for three other counts being dropped.
In sentencing Franklin, US District Judge 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 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 US 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 disclosed.
The two former AIPAC members, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, have also been charged and are scheduled to go to trial in April. Their lawyers have argued the two were engaged in routine lobbying work and their discussions with Franklin are protected under First Amendment guarantees of free speech.
Franklin will not serve his prison term until after the government's prosecution of Rosen and Weissman, and prosecutors may seek a reduction of Franklin's sentence if they believe his cooperation warrants it.
The judge said yesterday that Franklin believed the National Security Council was insufficiently concerned with the threat posed by an unspecified Middle Eastern nation. Franklin thought leaking information might eventually persuade the Security Council to take more serious action, he said.
While the Middle Eastern country was not named in the court record, sources and the facts of the case point to Iran.
Franklin at one time worked for Feith, then the Pentagon's number three official, on issues involving the Middle East. During a court appearance last year, Franklin said he would occasionally be questioned directly by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former top Pentagon official Paul Wolfowitz on policy issues.
As a result, Franklin said, he sometimes took classified information home to stay up to speed. One of the charges to which he pleaded guilty was unlawful retention of classified national defense information.