WASHINGTON — An employee for the Defense Intelligence Agency was arrested Wednesday on accusations that he disclosed classified information to two journalists, one of whom he had a romantic relationship with, the Justice Department said.
Henry Kyle Frese, 30, of Alexandria, was charged with two counts of willful transmission of national defense information, each carrying a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
Federal prosecutors say Frese, whose government security clearance allowed him access to top secret and sensitive information, accessed multiple classified intelligence reports and leaked information about a foreign country's weapons systems to a journalist. Authorities say some of the reports Frese accessed were unrelated to his job duties.
"Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement. "Frese betrayed the trust placed in him by the American people – a betrayal that risked harming the national security of this country."
The unauthorized disclosures to the two reporters happened in 2018 and 2019. Prior to that, from August 2017 to August 2018, Frese and one of the reporters lived together and appeared to have been involved in a romantic relationship, authorities say. They did not name the two journalists involved and did not say what their media affiliations were.
In April 2018, after Frese accessed one of the intelligence reports, the journalist asked if he'd be willing to speak with another reporter, prosecutors say. Frese then said he was "down" to help the second journalist — a colleague at an affiliated but different news outlet, authorities say.
The journalist whom authorities believe had a relationship with Frese published six articles related to information that Frese leaked, authorities say.
Federal authorities said Frese was “captured” last month on court-authorized surveillance of his cell phone orally transmitting classified national defense information to the second journalist
“Henry Kyle Frese was entrusted with top secret information related to the national defense of our country,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, Va. “Frese allegedly violated that trust, the oath he swore to uphold, and is charged with engaging in dastardly and felonious conduct at the expense of our country. This indictment should serve as a clear reminder to all of those similarly entrusted with National Defense Information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic, it is criminal.”
Frese's is one of six criminal cases the Justice Department has filed related to unauthorized disclosures in the last two years, the agency said.
This story will be updated.