Defense Intelligence Agency Employee Arrested After Leaking Classified Information

Peyton Gouzien | @pgouzien

The Justice Department announced the arrest of an employee at the Defense Intelligence Agency. The employee has been arrested for allegedly disclosing Nation Defense Information to two journalists. One in 2018 and another in 2019.  Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers claims the employee “was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain”.

Information Given to Journalists

The employee, Henry Kyle Frese, holds Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance. Frese is reported as accessing classified information reports related and unrelated to his duties. One report regarded TOP SECRET information regarding a foreign country’s weapons systems. This information was provided to the first journalist.

According to the indictment, one week after accessing the first report, journalist one put Frese in contact with journalist two. Frese agreed to contact with journalist two if it would “help” journalist one. He is quoted as saying he wanted to see journalist one “progress”.

Frese allegedly spoke with journalist one about the topic of the first intelligence report before accessing the report later. He then spoke to both journalists over the phone. Hours after journalist one published an article relating to the topic of the first intelligence report.

Frese’s Arrest and Trial

On September 24th, 2019, Frese was caught based on surveillance of his cell phone orally transmitting classified NDI to Journalist 2. Disclosures made are classified at the SECRET level. This means it is expected disclosure of the information could be harmful to national security, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment that charges Frese with two counts of “willful transmission of national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it”. If Frese is convicted he will serve a maximum of ten years in prison per charge. Assistant U.S. Attorney Danya E. Atiyeh and Trial Attorney Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are on the prosecution for the case.

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