Judge keeps lobbyist trial open

The judge in the classified information trial of two former AIPAC staffers threw out a prosecution request to keep significant portions of the trial secret from the public. The government proposal “closes significant parts of this trial and fails to pass constitutional muster,” federal judge T.S. Ellis III ruled Monday in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. The government had proposed using codes to keep information secret from the public and a system that the judge said was overly confusing for the jury. The ruling was a victory for a number of First Amendment protection groups and media outlets who had filed an amicus brief. Ellis said the government proposal would have been unprecedented in its scope.Steve Rosen, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s former foreign policy chief, and Keith Weissman, its former Iran policy analyst, face trial on charges of receiving and relaying classified information. The trial is set to start June 4, almost two years after they were indicted. Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of AMCHA, a Jewish organization that also filed an amicus brief at the hearing, welcomed the ruling. “How do they propose to close the court?” Herzfeld said of the prosecution. “Is this Soviet Russia?”

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