State Dept. contractor charged in leak to news organization

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 28, 2010

A State Department contractor was indicted Friday by a federal grand jury in the District, becoming the latest target of a series of investigations into unauthorized government leaks to news organizations under the Obama administration.

Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, 43, then a senior adviser for intelligence on detail to the State Department's arms control compliance bureau, was charged with disclosing national defense information in June 2009 to a national news organization, believed to be Fox News, and lying to the FBI. Kim pleaded not guilty before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

Although unnamed by the government, Fox News reporter James Rosen wrote a report posted June 11, 2009, saying that U.S. intelligence officials had warned that North Korea planned to respond to a new round of U.N. sanctions with another nuclear test. Rosen reported that the CIA warning was developed through sources inside North Korea.

According to the indictment, Kim disclosed "Top Secret-Sensitive Compartmented Information" that concerned the military capabilities of a foreign nation and intelligence "sources and/or methods," which "could be used to the injury of the United States."

"Today's indictment should serve as a warning to anyone who is entrusted with sensitive national security information," U.S. Assistant Attorney General David S. Kris said.

Kim's lawyers, Abbe D. Lowell and Ruth Wedgwood, faulted the government with criminalizing exchanges "that happen hundreds of times a day in Washington."

"In its obsession to clamp down on perfectly appropriate conversations between government employees and the press, the Obama Administration has forgotten that wise foreign policy must be founded on a two-way conversation between government and the public," Lowell and Wedgwood said in a statement.

Since December, prosecutors have indicted Thomas A. Drake, a National Security Agency official, with improperly handling classified information with a Baltimore Sun reporter; secured a guilty plea from Shamai Kedem Leibowitz, a former FBI contract linguist, for leaking documents to a blogger; and arrested Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, 22, suspected of giving a classified video of a U.S. military helicopter firing at civilians in Baghdad to the site. Manning is also suspected of leaking 76,000 classified documents about the Afghanistan war that WikiLeaks posted this month.

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