A former counterterrorism analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency admitted in federal court Thursday that he shared classified information with two reporters.
Henry Kyle Frese, 31, of Alexandria, Virginia, was in a romantic relationship with a journalist, according to prosecutors, and passed information on Chinese and Russian weapons systems to her and a colleague in 2018 and 2019. He also shared classified information with a counterterrorism consultant.
Frese “was entrusted with Top Secret information related to the national defense of our country,” Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. “Frese violated that trust, the oath he swore to uphold, and engaged in felonious conduct at the expense of our country.”
Frese is set to be sentenced June 18. As part of his plea he has agreed to provide “full, complete and truthful cooperation.”
An attorney for Frese declined to comment.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly decried leaks and vowed to crack down on unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information. A former CIA software engineer is on trial in New York, accused of sharing the agency’s secret hacking tools with the website WikiLeaks.
Court records do not name the journalists but describe articles and tweets written by Amanda Macias of CNBC and Courtney Kube of MSNBC. Neither journalist was prosecuted, and officials said their communications were not monitored as part of the investigation.
The reporters and news agencies have not publicly commented on the case.
Frese joined the DIA as an intelligence contractor in January 2017 and was hired as a counterterrorism analyst 13 months later. He used his security clearance to gain access to reports that were not relevant to his work, and information from those documents turned up in the CNBC and MSNBC stories.
According to prosecutors, Frese verbally shared the information with the two reporters. Authorities said 26 individuals, including Frese, accessed all five intelligence reports whose contents were referenced in the stories. Frese and Macias were living together from January to November 2018, according to the court records, and followed each other on Twitter.
At least twice on Twitter, Frese promoted Macias’ articles containing classified information, according to court papers. In a direct message on Twitter, he told Macias he was willing to speak to Kube if it helped her “progress.” Authorities said he spoke on the phone with both reporters repeatedly.
According to the statement of facts in the case, Frese also confirmed for Macias classified information provided to her by someone else. He also shared classified information with a counterterrorism consultant who connected with him via social media.