Bush aides face spy case summons

Senior US government officials must give evidence in Israel "spy" trial, judge rules.

    Lawrence Franklin was sentenced to 12 years in prison for spying [AP]
    Rosen, Weissman and Lawrence Franklin, a department of defence official, were charged in 2005 with conspiracy to communicate national defence information following a lengthy FBI investigation.
     
    US officials alleged that between 1999 and 2004, Franklin passed secrets to Israel using Aipac as a conduit.
     
    At the time, Rosen was the lobby's policy director and Weissman an analyst on Iran.
     
    Secrets 'mishandled'

    The court documents are also said to contain the alleged recording of 57 acts, involving a mishandling of secrets, including meetings and telephone calls, passing the information with both US and foreign nationals.

    The intelligence involved terrorist activities in central Asia, US intelligence and policy regarding Middle Eastern countries and information on al-Qaeda.
     
    Rosen and Weissman hope the officials' testimony will support their defence that they were not engaged in spying.
     
    The defendants claim that evidence from the officials will show nothing more than "a well-established official Washington practice of engaging in 'back-channel' communication," said a statement from Friday's ruling in Alexandria, Virginia.

    Franklin, a former assistant to Douglas Feith, who was once the US undersecretary of defence, previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced in January 2006 to 12 years and seven months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

    Rosen and Weissman maintain that the secrets were not closely held by the US government and their disclosure did no damage to the country.

    The case is expected to go to trial next January.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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