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Israel lobbyists may use classified documents in espionage defense: Fourth Circuit

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that two former lobbyists may use classified documents in their defense against charges [case materials] under the 1917 Espionage Act [18 USC 793 text]. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, previously with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) [advocacy website], are charged with conspiring to convey classified US intelligence to the Israeli government [JURIST report]. Tuesday's decision affirmed a ruling of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] that the defendant's would be allowed to use certain classified materials in their defense under the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) [text].

The district court ruled in 2006 that the prosecution must show the defendants "had bad faith purposes" [AP report], as well as knowledge that their actions would harm the United States. Rosen and Weissman had earlier challenged the constitutionality [JURIST report] of the Espionage Act, which has been construed ever more narrowly since it was first passed during World War I.

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