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Lawyers credit Obama team for dismissing AIPAC case

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Lawyers for the two former AIPAC staffers charged four years ago with dealing in government secrets credited the Obama administration for dropping the case.

“We are extremely grateful that this new Administration, in coordination with the U.S.  Attorney’s Office in Virginia, has taken seriously their obligation to evaluate cases on the merits and not to allow an unjust prosecution to continue solely due to momentum,” said the joint statement by lawyers for Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman issued Friday, hours after the government filed for a dismissal of the charges against the two former senior staffers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.  “This Administration  truly shows that theirs is a Department of Justice, where the justice of any case can be re-evaluated and the government can admit that a case should not be pursued.”

Sources close to the defense said the investigation, which first came to light in 2004 when FBI agents raided AIPAC offices, appeared to be of a piece with the Bush administration policy of expanding its secrecy powers that President Obama has said he will reverse. Rosen and Weissman were the first civilians to be prosecuted under  1917 statute that criminalizes the receipt and retention of classified information.

JTA has learned that the defense lawyers two months ago launched an intensified effort to get Obama appointees at the Justice Department to review the case.

Abbe Lowell, Rosen’s lead lawyer, said now was a time for AIPAC and the organized Jewish community to consider its treatment of the two.

“Now, we mostly look for ways for Keith and Steve to get their life back,” Lowell said. “What happened to them at AIPAC, how the community treated them, how they get on with their lives.”

The others lawyers signing the statement included: Erica Paulson for Rosen; and John Nassikas, Baruch Weiss, Kate Briscoe and Kavitha Babu for Weissman.

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