WASHINGTON (JTA) — A former Pentagon analyst who pleaded guilty to passing secret information to two former AIPAC staffers had his sentence drastically reduced.
Larry Franklin was sentenced to probation and 10 months of "community confinement," or a halfway house, along with 100 hours of community service. In 2005 he had received a sentence of 12 1/2 years in prison but was free pending his cooperation with prosecutors in the case against the two formers AIPAC staffers, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman.
Federal prosecutors dropped the charges last month against Rosen and Weissman for passing classified information, saying that restrictions the judge had placed on the case made the government unlikely to prevail.
In a Thursday afternoon hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., prosecutors asked Judge T.S. Ellis to reduce Franklin’s sentence to eight years, saying he played an important role in the case but was "not what you’d call an ideal cooperator." Franklin attorney, Plato Cacheris, said Franklin had "paid his penalty and suffered greatly," and should not have to serve any time in prison.
Ellis said he didn’t have an opinion on the dismissal of the case against Rosen and Weissman, but the fact that the case was dropped was a "significant" factor in the sentencing of Franklin.
The judge also noted in Franklin’s defense that other leakers of government secrets in recent years have not been prosecuted. On the other hand, Ellis noted that "this case is different from Rosen and Weissman because Mr. Franklin is a goverment official." For that reason, Ellis said Franklin’s community service should consist of speaking to young people about the importance of public officials obeying the law.
Franklin has said he leaked information to the former AIPAC staffers, as well as an Israeli diplomat, because of "frustration with policy" on Iran at the Pentagon. He believed that they would be able to relay that information on Iran to friends on the U.S. National Security Council.