The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled Feb. 24 that two former lobbyists may use classified documents in their defense against charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, previously with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are charged with conspiring to convey classified US intelligence to the Israeli government. The decision affirms a ruling of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia that the defendants would be allowed to use certain classified materials in their defense under the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA).
The district court ruled in 2006 that the prosecution must show the defendants “had bad faith purposes,” as well as knowledge that their actions would harm the United States. Rosen and Weissman had earlier challenged the constitutionality of the Espionage Act, which has been construed ever more narrowly since it was first passed during World War I. (Jurist, Feb. 25)
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