Pentagon analyst charged in leaks of classified reports

The Pentagon is viewed outside Washington, DC. (AF Photo)

A Pentagon counterterrorism analyst shared classified information with two journalists for more than a year, one of whom he was dating, according to an indictment unsealed on Wednesday.

The analyst, Henry Kyle Frese, 30, was arrested on Wednesday at his office at the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he has worked since January 2017, first as a contractor and then as an employee, prosecutors said.

His arrest was the latest in the Justice Department’s aggressive efforts to crack down on illegal leaks of classified information. Six people have been charged with unlawfully sharing government information since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed in August 2017 to ramp up the fight on leaks, said John Demers, the head of the department’s National Security Division.

Federal prosecutors declined to say whether they had monitored the journalists or obtained their records or data. And the methods in the case — a wiretap of Frese’s phone, perhaps the most intrusive tool in criminal investigators’ arsenal — underscored the Trump administration’s aggression in hunting leaks to journalists.

The Trump administration’s renewed pursuit of leakers has alarmed First Amendment advocates, who say the investigations can have a chilling effect on government employees who may choose to stay silent rather than alert journalists to wrongdoing.

Such indictments are also regularly used by Trump’s allies to advance rhetoric about a “deep state” of government leakers seeking to undermine his presidency; reporters say their sources are often dedicated public servants concerned about malfeasance or abuse of power.

Frese shared information classified as top secret with reporters multiple times as far back as April 2018, when he gained access to an intelligence report about an unnamed foreign country’s weapons systems — a topic unrelated to his counterterrorism work, according to court papers.

Frese shared information from the report with Amanda Macias, a national security reporter at CNBC who was his girlfriend, according to court papers and social media posts. She published eight articles related to information from Frese and five intelligence reports, according to prosecutors, who identified her only as Journalist 1.

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