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US Intelligence Agent Charged With Leaking Secrets to Journalists

A US Defense Intelligence Agency official who investigators believe was being directed to hunt for government secrets was charged with leaking classified information after being arrested by the FBI.
Henry Kyle Frese, 30, has a top secret government security clearance, and is alleged to have accessed at least five classified intelligence reports and provided top secret information about China’s weapons systems to the reporter with whom he was having a relationship, media reports said, naming her as Amanda Macias of CNBC, a pay TV business news channel.
The arrest was the sixth a string of prosecutions by the administration of President Donald Trump against government workers accused of leaking confidential documents, including Reality Winner. The whistleblower had been jailed for five years for sending classified information detailing a suspected 2016 Russian hack of a Florida election vendor to the Intercept.
Neither reporter was identified by name in court documents, but were identified by The Wall Street Journal and media reports. Another is said to be Courtney Kube of NBC News, who covers the Pentagon.
“Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain,” said John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division of the case that has alarmed media freedom backers.
Gabe Rottman of the Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press said his organization would monitor the Frese case closely. “Aggressive leak prosecutions directly impair newsgathering by dissuading sources with newsworthy information about matters of public concern from speaking to reporters,” he said.
Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said the case wasn’t meant to send a message to journalists but to “leakers,” the Journal said. It was not indicated if – as happened in Australia – the journalists would also be arrested or prosecuted.
While Frese was alleged to be romantically tied to Macias he provided additional information to Kube, who is more senior than Macias, to help Macias’s career, prosecutors alleged.
In April 2018, after Frese accessed one of the intelligence reports, she sent him a private message on Twitter asking if he would be willing to speak with another journalist. Prosecutors said this journalist worked at another outlet owned by the same company, while court documents indicated Kube.
Frese replied that he would do so if it could help advance Macias’ career because he wanted to see her “progress,” according to the documents. The government also intercepted a call in September during which Frese allegedly read classified national defense information to the second journalist, the documents said.
Federal investigators believe Frese was “taking direction from members of the media” because he had searched for the intelligence documents that were outside of his area of expertise, said Alan Kohler, the Special Agent in Charge of Counterintelligence at the FBI’s field office in Washington, according to Military.com.
The court records outline the FBI’s surveillance of Frese and how they captured phone calls and direct messages on Twitter between him and the two journalists, who apparently both covered national security. There were no reports indicating any of the accused used encrypted methods of relaying and receiving the information.

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