A former counterterrorism analyst pleaded guilty Thursday to leaking classified national defense information to two journalists, including one he was dating.
Henry Kyle Frese, 31, of Alexandria pleaded guilty to the willful transmission of Top Secret national defense information. He faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced June 18.
“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 C. Demers. “He alerted our country’s adversaries to sensitive national defense information, putting the nation’s security at risk.”
Prosecutors said he shared top-secret defense reports, including details on China’s weapons systems, in 2018 and 2019. An article on China’s defenses was one of at least eight articles written by two NBC-affiliated journalists based on intelligence reports Frese leaked to them, according to court documents.
The journalists are not identified in the indictment, but public tweets cited in court filings correspond with stories written by Amanda Macias, a CNBC reporter, and Courtney Kube, a reporter for NBC. Neither reporter nor NBC News responded to requests for comment. Ms. Kube covers national security and the military and Ms. Macias reports on the Pentagon.
Neither has been charged with a crime.
Ms. Macias is believed to have had a romantic relationship with Frese because they lived together and appear in each other’s social media posts, prosecutors said.
Between mid-April and early May 2018, Frese took the classified intelligence reports, some of which were unrelated to his job duties, and transmitted them to Ms. Macias using his cellphone, prosecutors said.
Ms. Macias then asked her paramour if he could help out Ms. Kube. According to court documents, Frese said he was “down” with helping Ms. Kube because it would help her “progress.” She also published an article based on Frese’s leaks.
“Henry Kyle Frese was entrusted with Top Secret information related to the national defense of our country,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Frese violated that trust, the oath he swore to uphold, and engaged in felonious conduct at the expense of our country. This case 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.”
Frese held a top-secret clearance at the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he started as a contractor in January 2017 before becoming a full-time employee. He was arrested Wednesday morning when he arrived at work.
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