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12 years for analyst keeping data on Iran

Charges of passing classified information to Israel are dropped

From Terry Frieden
CNN

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A former Pentagon policy specialist on Iran was sentenced Friday to 12 years and seven months in prison for crimes including conspiring to pass classified information to lobbyists for Israel.

Larry Franklin, who pleaded guilty in October, was indicted last year on numerous counts involving his giving classified information to an Israeli diplomat and members of a pro-Israel lobbying group.

Franklin, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, had been employed with the U.S. Department of Defense in several capacities since 1979. Among his posts was the DOD's Iran desk in the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs.

He was indicted on six counts in May 2005: conspiracy to communicate national defense information, communication of classified communication intelligence information, conspiracy to communicate classified information to a foreign official, and three counts of communication of national defense information.

Prosecutors in August combined his case with those of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, former key members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Franklin appeared in U.S. District Court in Arlington, Virginia, on Friday, and Judge T.S. Ellis III handed down the sentence for conspiracy to provide classified information to a foreign agent and to other unauthorized persons, and illegal retention of secret documents.

As part of a plea agreement, the government agreed to drop three other charges involving the sharing of national defense material.

The former Pentagon analyst said that he took classified documents to his Kearneysville, West Virginia, home to read and prepare for questions. However, the government has countered that he took the documents "in an effort to advance his own career, advance his own foreign policy agenda and influence persons within and outside the U.S. government."

An FBI affidavit states that a June 2004 search of Franklin's home yielded 83 documents identified as classified, 38 of which were top secret.

Franklin, who has three degrees in Asian studies, held a top-secret security clearance that was suspended in June 2004.

The trials of his co-defendants, Rosen and Weissman, are scheduled for April.

Franklin has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and will remain free until after Rosen's and Weissman's trials. Prosecutors have said they may reduce Franklin's sentence based on his cooperation.

Paul McNulty, the U.S. attorney for eastern Virginia and acting deputy attorney general, issued a brief statement after the sentencing, saying, "The defendant violated his pledge to protect classified information. In doing so, he compromised national security and the system that protects it."

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