WASHINGTON - A federal judge set a May 2 deadline for the U.S. Justice Department to decide how to prosecute two lobbyists accused of passing information to Israel.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a request from prosecutors that portions of the case be kept from the public to protect classified information, The Washington Post reported Friday. The deadline was set after prosecutors requested time to decide whether to appeal the decision, find another way to handle the sensitive information or drop the case.
Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are charged under the 1917 Espionage Act with conspiring to acquire classified information from U.S. officials and pass it on orally to Israeli officials and the media. Rosen and Weissman are the first non-U.S. officials to be charged under the act for passing information orally.
The defense claims the two men were acting within their First Amendment rights when they received and reported the information. They claim their actions were similar to those of journalists or researchers in the field of national security.
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