Defense Intel Agency Employee Accused of Leaking Secrets to Journo Girlfriend

October 9, 2019 by Dan McCue
The Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – A Defense Intelligence Agency employee from Alexandria, Virginia was arrested Wednesday morning for allegedly leaking classified information to his journalist girlfriend and a second journalist.

Henry Kyle Frese, who is identified in court documents as a counterterrorism analyst, was arrested when he showed up for work in Reston, Va.

John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said the 30-year-old Frese has been indicted on two counts of willful transmission of national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it.

“Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain,” Demers said.

“Frese betrayed the trust placed in him by the American people — a betrayal that risked harming the national security of this country,” he continued. “This is one of six unauthorized disclosure cases the Department has charged in just over two years, and we will continue in our efforts to punish and deter this behavior.”

In an affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Special Agent Donny Kim says that over the past two years, Frese, who had a Top Secret security clearance, routinely accessed classified intelligence reports — some of which were unrelated to his duties — and gave a journalist information on “a foreign country’s weapons systems.”

According to prosecutors, Frese would search a classified government computer system for terms in a report, and once he found it, he would speak with his girlfriend to tell her what it contained.

About half an hour later, they say, a news article on the topic was published based on the top secret information.

At one point, Frese’s girlfriend asked if he would speak with another journalist. He agreed because he wanted to help advance his girlfriend’s career, the court documents say.

The second journalist also published articles based on the information.

Investigators say they caught Frese through his use of government computer systems and his cellphone.

“Henry Kyle Frese was entrusted with top secret information related to the national defense of our country,” G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

“Frese allegedly violated that trust, the oath he swore to uphold, and is charged with engaging in dastardly and felonious conduct at the expense of our country,” Terwilliger added.

The Justice Department has not released the name of the journalists involved or their news outlets.

Asked by a reporter whether the DOJ intended to send a message to journalists, Terwilliger said the message the department wants to send is intended for only one audience.

“The Justice Department is trying to send a message to leakers — that if you leak information and you betray your oath and you unilaterally provide information, you are going to be prosecuted,” he said.

Frese is expected to appear in court on Thursday. If convicted on both counts, he faces a possible sentence of 20 years in prison.

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