Defense Intelligence Agency Employee Charged With Leaking Classified Information to Media

Defense Intelligence Agency Employee Charged With Leaking Classified Information to Media
The U.S. Department of Justice building in Washington on April 18, 2019. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)
Janita Kan

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, 30, was charged with two counts of willful transmission of national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it. Each count carries a penalty of 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that Frese helped a journalist who he appeared to be in a relationship with—referred to as journalist one—by using his top-secret and sensitive security clearance to access multiple intelligence reports—some of which were unrelated to his duties. The journalists have not been identified.

The indictment, which was unsealed on Tuesday at the Eastern District Court of Virginia, stated that Frese made unauthorized disclosures to the journalists in 2018 and 2019. Frese has been accused of helping the journalists research information on a classified United States government computer system and providing them with classified information from the reports he accessed. Some of the information relates to the capabilities of certain foreign countries’ weapon systems.

During one incident in April 2018, after Frese had accessed an intelligence report for a second time, journalist one asked him whether he was willing to speak to another journalist from a different news outlet. Frese said he would if it helped journalist one to “progress,” the indictment said.

Prosecutors said journalist one published at least eight articles that contained classified information related to information obtained by Frese. Moreover, they said Frese was intercepted on the phone transmitting the classified information to the second journalist in an attempt to “curry favor with journalist two to advance journalist one’s career.”

“Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain,” said John Demers, assistant attorney general of the National Security Division, in a news release. ”Frese betrayed the trust placed in him by the American people—a betrayal that risked harming the national security of this country.”

The prosecutors said Frese’s alleged actions could have caused serious harm to the national security of the United States.

“Frese provided information that could bring harm to his own country and benefit our adversaries,” Alan Kohler Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Counterintelligence Division, told reporters in a conference call.

“The information that Mr. Frese is alleged to have provided was classified National Defense Information that relates to the capabilities of certain foreign countries weapon systems. The concern is not just the loss of that information, but how other countries could use that information. Put simply it threatens American lives.”

The charges announced on Wednesday are the latest in the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on leaks, which were first announced by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017. Demers said the department has charged six individuals with leaks in just over two years.

“We’re charging more individuals and we’re obtaining higher sentences. Our investigators and prosecutors nationwide will continue to develop themselves immediately cases in order to protect our nation from the threat posed by the rare intelligence community official who breaks his or her oath,” Demers said.

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