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Judge lauded for rebuke in AIPAC case

The American Jewish Committee praised the judge in the case against two former AIPAC staffers for rebuking the government. Tuesday’s statement was the first formal statement on the case by a major U.S. Jewish group since the August 2005 indictment of Steve Rosen, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s former foreign policy chief, and Keith Weissman, its former Iran analyst.”Judge T.S. Ellis III’s recent rebuke of the prosecution for not moving forward expeditiously is warranted,” AJCommittee Executive Director David Harris said. “Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman are entitled to their day in court to explain their actions and be given every opportunity to rebut allegations that they illegally passed on classified information in violation of the 1917 Espionage Act – a statute never before used to prosecute private citizens.”Ellis rebuked prosecutors last week for failing to meet a deadline to decide whether to appeal his decision rejecting the government’s request for a closed trial or whether to accept his conditions.Prosecutors want to classify much of the trial, saying the evidence was too sensitive for public consumption. Ellis said such a trial would be unconstitutional, adding that classifying the evidence would unfairly undercut the defense’s argument that the information Rosen and Weissman are accused of handling was of little consequence.Jewish groups have kept mostly silent about the case, with the notable exception of Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Hoenlein told JTA in 2005 that he believed AIPAC had an organizational responsibility to fund the defense of employees who were “working on what they thought were their responsibilities.”AIPAC and the defendants have yet to resolve a disagreement over the degree to which AIPAC should fund their defense.