U.S. counter-terrorism analyst charged with leaking classified materials

US counter-terrorism analyst charged with leaking classified materials

US counter-terrorism analyst charged with leaking classified materials

A counterterrorism analyst from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly leaking classified information to two journalists, according to the Justice Department (DOJ).

Henry Kyle Frese, a 30-year-old counter-terrorism analyst, had a top secret clearance at the DIA and worked there as a contractor since January 2017 before becoming a full-time employee. He has been charged with two counts of willful transmission of national defense information.

According to the Department of Justice, Frese was seemingly involved in a "romantic relationship for some or all of that period of time" in which he allegedly transmitted the information.

The arrest is the latest in a series of prosecutions under the Trump administration of government workers accused of providing nonpublic information to journalists.

Frese is the sixth individual to be charged with leaking to reporters or the public in the last two years.

Neither of the reporters nor their news organisations were named. The leaks occurred in 2018 and 2019 and authorities said Frese lived with the journalist in question from August 2017 to August 2018.

The Justice Department declined to provide any additional details about the classified information that was leaked, but the articles focused on China's missile systems.

His alleged motive apparently was to advance the career of the female reporter with whom he had a relationship, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a court affidavit.

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Frese was reportedly in a relationship with one of the reporters he leaked to and was perhaps trying to advance that person's career.

Frese, who had a high-level security clearance, was due to appear in U.S. district court in Alexandria on Wednesday, charged with willful transmission of national defense information.

"Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain", said John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, who cited ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions' vow to pursue leakers as the motivation for the probe.

Federal investigators believe Frese was "taking direction from members of the media" because he had searched for the intelligence documents that were outside of his area of expertise, according to Alan Kohler, the special agent in charge of counterintelligence at the FBI's field office in Washington. He said prosecutors were focused on the leaker, not the journalists.

Some of the classified intelligence reports Frese accessed were not connected to his job duties. He said Frese's behavior was "not selfless or heroic, it is criminal". It was not immediately clear who was representing him. A message left on Frese's cellphone was not immediately returned.

When Macias tweeted a link to her story, Frese later re-tweeted the article, according to the court documents.

There was no immediate response from CNBC to a request for comment.

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