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US analyst plans guilty plea

Pentagon staffer accused of leaking classified material

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A Pentagon analyst, charged with providing classified information to an Israeli official and members of a pro-Israeli lobbying group, planned to plead guilty to one or more charges, a court said yesterday.

Lawrence A. Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W. Va., was one of the Pentagon's policy specialists on Iran and the Middle East. He was indicted in June on charges of disclosing national defense information to people not entitled to receive it, including two members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The indictment also alleges that he leaked top-secret information about two unidentified Middle Eastern officials to the media.

Franklin had previously pleaded not guilty, but yesterday a change of plea hearing was added to the court calendar for Wednesday. A statement issued by the US District Court clerk's office said Franklin ''is scheduled to plead guilty to a charge or charges."

Court records include no details about Franklin's plea; such details normally are not made public until the plea is entered.

Four of the five counts against Franklin carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and the fifth carries a sentence of up to five years.

Prosecutors declined to comment and Franklin's lawyer, Plato Cacheris, did not return calls.

The two AIPAC officials who allegedly received the information, Steven Rosen of Silver Spring, Md., and Keith Weissman of Bethesda, Md., also have been charged with conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US defense information.

Franklin had been cooperating with the government in its case against Rosen and Weissman as far back as July 2004, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, Franklin met periodically with Rosen and Weissman between 2002 and 2004 and discussed classified information, including information about potential attacks on US troops in Iraq. Rosen and Weissman would subsequently share what they learned with reporters and Israeli officials. On at least one occasion, Franklin spoke directly to an Israeli official.

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