Judge orders DOJ probe into media leak of secret information in Israel lobbyists case

[JURIST] A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into how CBS News and other media outlets learned of a criminal investigation into the activities of two pro-Israel lobbyists before they were formally charged. In an opinion released Tuesday, US District Judge T.S. Ellis III declined to throw out the evidence against Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) [advocacy website]. Defense lawyers argued that the government did not follow proper protocol to obtain a warrant for surveillance and that the leaks violated their clients' rights and could prejudice potential jurors. Ellis requested the Justice Department prepare a sealed report by September 15.

Rosen and Weissman have been indicted [PDF text; JURIST report] under the WWI-era Espionage Act [18 USC 793 text; Wikipedia backgrounder] for allegedly obtaining classified information about potential attacks on US forces in Iraq and disclosing the information to a diplomat, the media, and several foreign government officials. First Amendment advocates and members of the media have raised concerns about the law because it could also be applied to journalists who report on classified information. The Washington Post has more.

 

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