Intelligence official arrested for leaking information to journalists

The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that a Defense Intelligence Agency official has been arrested for allegedly leaking classified information to journalists, one of whom he may have been involved with in a romantic relationship.

Henry Kyle Frese, 30, has been charged with two counts of willful transmission of national defense information. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.

(Photo by ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP/Getty Images)

The information Frese allegedly leaked, according to charging documents filed in Virginia, had to do with a foreign country’s weapons system. The exact information, as well as the identity of the journalists and the outlets they work for, is being kept quiet for the moment.

The FBI had Frese under surveillance and their evidence includes direct messages on Twitter with two journalists, and a phone call.

Frese was reportedly a counterterrorism analyst. Prosecutors allege that Frese used his security clearance to access multiple intelligence documents that had nothing to with his specific job.

“Leaks of classified information cause undeniable damage to our national security,” John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, told journalists about the arrest.

According to Demers, Frese is the sixth person to be charged with leaking information within the last two years.

“Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain,” Demers said in a statement. “Frese betrayed the trust placed in him by the American people – a betrayal that risked harming the national security of this country.”

“Henry Kyle Frese was entrusted with top secret information related to the national defense of our country,” G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, Virginia, said. “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. This indictment should serve as a clear reminder to all of those similarly entrusted with National Defense Information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic, it is criminal.”

To make the story even stranger, Frese was reportedly in a relationship with one of the reporters he leaked to and was perhaps trying to advance that person’s career. The leaks occurred in 2018 and 2019 and authorities say Frese lived with the journalist in question from August 2017 to August 2018.

The journalist with whom Frese allegedly had a relationship could have published six or more stories based on information received from the alleged leaker.

Since leaking has been a particular problem in the Trump administration, some have taken to social media to celebrate the arrest of Frese and to hope that other leakers are soon caught and prosecuted:

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