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Washington Post: Drop AIPAC staffers’ case

Washington Post: Drop AIPAC staffers’ case

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Washington Post is urging the Justice Department to drop its prosecution of two former AIPAC staffers.

In an editorial Wednesday, the paper said the indictment of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman is "a criminal case that should never have been brought." The two were charged with passing classified information under a rarely used section of the 1917 Espionage Act.

"The government has the right to demand strict confidentiality from government officials and others who swear to protect its secrets," the Post wrote. "The Justice Department errs egregiously and risks profound damage to the First Amendment, however, when it insists that private citizens — academics, journalists, think tank analysts, lobbyists and the like — also are legally bound to keep the nation’s secrets. The prosecution in effect criminalizes the exchange of information."

The editorial also noted that recent court rulings have provided "exceedingly high hurdles" for the prosecution to clear in making its case, pointing out that the government now "must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants passed along information they knew to be closely held by the government, that they did so knowing it could damage national security and that they acted in bad faith."