WASHINGTON – Henry Kyle Frese pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to illegally transmitting national defense information to journalists.
Frese, 31, was employed as a counterterrorism analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency from February 2018 to October 2019, and held a top-secret clearance.
“Frese violated the trust placed in him by the American people when he disclosed sensitive national security information for personal gain,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers in a statement. “He alerted our country’s adversaries to sensitive national defense information, putting the nation’s security at risk.”
Federal prosecutors say he researched multiple classified intelligence reports – some of which were unrelated to his job duties – and leaked information about a foreign country’s weapons systems to two journalists.
Prosecutors said that Frese, who worked as both a contractor and a full-time employee for DIA, was in a relationship with one of the journalists and sought to advance the reporter’s career.
The journalist linked romantically to Frese published at least eight articles containing classified information provided by the analyst, authorities say. Prosecutors asserted that Frese compromised the contents of at least five intelligence reports.
The unauthorized disclosures happened in 2018 and 2019. Prior to that, from August 2017 to August 2018, Frese and the reporter lived together, authorities say.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said that Frese “was entrusted with Top Secret information related to the national defense of our country” and “violated that trust, the oath he swore to uphold, and engaged in felonious conduct at the expense of our country.”
Timothy R. Slater, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, stated that “By disseminating the same classified information he had pledged to protect, Henry Kyle Frese put the US and our national defense equities in danger.”
Frese faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and will be sentenced on June 18.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson and Kristine Phillips