(CN) – The 4th Circuit allowed the use of redacted and summarized classified documents in the trial of two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of leaking national defense secrets to other lobbyists, foreign officials and the media.
Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, former employees of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, were indicted in 2005 on charges that they disclosed defense information from 1999 to 2004.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III cited the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) in admitting some of the classified information Rosen and Weissman sought to use in their defense.
The Act allows them to use classified information at trial, so long as they notify the court and the government to allow for an evidentiary hearing.
If the court authorizes disclosure, the government can then move, under CIPA, to redact or summarize the classified documents in a way that protects the sensitive information without denying the defendants a fair trial.
Rosen and Weissman said they expected to disclose “a large volume” of classified information at trial, the ruling states. Judge Ellis deemed much of it relevant and admissible.
The government pressed for redactions and summaries, but the court disagreed with some of its proposals.
The government then challenged the evidentiary rulings, specifically orders on documents referred to as the “FBI Report” and the “Israeli Briefing Document.”
The Virginia-based federal appeals court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss, but also upheld the evidentiary rulings.
“In making this assessment,” King wrote, “the court enlisted the participation of the government and the defendants and sought to fashion a substitution that would protect the defendants’ rights, while simultaneously preventing the unnecessary disclosure of classified information.”