A former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) employee pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to leaking classified intelligence information to two reporters.
Henry Kyle Frese, 31, of Alexandria, Va., was a counterterrorism analyst from February 2018 to October 2019 and held top-secret security clearance.
Between the spring and summer of 2018, a reporter published eight articles containing classified information related to the capabilities of certain foreign countries’ weapons systems, according to court documents cited in a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
These articles contained information from five classified intelligence reports made available to appropriately cleared recipients in the first half of 2018.
The topic of all of the reports was outside the scope of Frese’s job duties as an analyst covering counterterrorism, the DOJ said. The reporter’s articles contained information derived from the classified intelligence reports, indicating that it had been illegally disclosed and risked damaging national security.
According to court documents, Frese and the reporter lived together from January 2018 to November 2018. Around April 2018, the reporter introduced Frese to another reporter, whom he began texting and speaking with by telephone, according to the DOJ.
Between mid-2018 and late September 2019, Frese orally transmitted classified information to the first reporter on at least 16 separate occasions, the Justice Department said.
Frese reportedly knew the information was classified at top-secret levels because the intelligence documents from which he had learned the information had visible markings indicating their classified level. The documents he accessed were also stored on secure, classified government information systems, according to the DOJ.
On at least 30 separate occasions in 2018, Frese conducted searches on classified government systems for information regarding the classified topics he had discussed with both reporters. On multiple occasions in 2018 and 2019, Frese conducted searches on classified government systems because of specific requests for information.
“Frese violated the trust placed in him by the American people when he disclosed sensitive national security information for personal gain,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers. “He alerted our country’s adversaries to sensitive national defense information, putting the nation’s security at risk.”
Frese pleaded guilty to the willful transmission of top-secret national defense information. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced in June.