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Federal judge refuses to close parts of pro-Israel lobbyists espionage trial

[JURIST] A federal judge Monday refused a request to close portions of the upcoming espionage trial of two former American Israel Public Affairs Committee [advocacy website] lobbyists because doing so would violate the defendants' right to an open trial. The lobbyists, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, were indicted [PDF text; JURIST report] last year under the 1917 Espionage Act [18 USC 793 text] for allegedly conspiring to receive and disclose classified US defense information over a five-year period dating back to 1999. The prosecution's plan would have allowed only the judge, lawyers and jury to have access to classified evidence, but this was rejected by US District Judge T.S. Ellis [official profile].

In August 2006, Rosen and Weissman asked Ellis to dismiss the charges, arguing that the law is unconstitutionally vague and violates their right to free speech. Ellis, however, upheld the constitutionality [JURIST report] of the Espionage Act. The trial is set for June 4. AP has more.

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