DOJ charges Defence Intelligence Agency employee for leaking highly classified information to the media

Joshua Roberts/ReutersDefence Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Gen. Robert Ashley testifies to the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about ‘worldwide threats’ on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 29, 2019.
  • Henry Kyle Frese, a Defence Intelligence Agency employee, has been charged with leaking top secret information to two reporters, identified as “Journalist 1” and “Journalist 2,” according to a federal indictment that was unsealed on Wednesday.
  • The indictment said Frese was in a romantic relationship with Journalist 1.
  • Frese is accused of accessing at least three top-secret intelligence reports and transmitting the information from them to Journalist 1 and Journalist 2 in April or May of 2018, and September of this year.
  • Based on publicly available information on social media, Journalist 1 appears to be CNBC’s Amanda Macias. Other media reports have confirmed as much, and The Wall Street Journal reported that Journalist 2 is NBC’s Courtney Kube.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Defence Intelligence Agency employee identified as Henry Kyle Frese, 30, has been arrested and charged with two counts of transmitting national defence information to the media, according to an indictment that was unsealed in federal court on Wednesday.

The information Frese allegedly leaked to two journalists pertained to top secret information on a foreign country’s weapon systems, the indictment said. The charging document also said Frese is romantically linked to one of the reporters, identified as “Journalist 1” in court records.

Journalist 1 appears to be CNBC’s Amanda Macias, based on a search of publicly available information on social media. The Wall Street Journal confirmed as much and reported that the second reporter, identified as “Journalist 2,” is NBC’s Courtney Kube. NBC and CNBC are affiliates.

According to the indictment, Frese accessed an intelligence report unrelated to his job in mid-April or early May of 2018 that contained top-secret classified information related to the foreign country’s weapons systems.

Frese accessed the report a second time, and a week later, on April 27, 2018, he allegedly received a Twitter direct message from Journalist 1, who asked if Frese would be willing to speak with Journalist 2.


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Around that time, Journalist 2 was told by a US military official that they were not aware of the subject matter of a story that Journalist 1 was working on, which was based on the intelligence report Frese allegedly accessed.

Frese allegedly said he was “down” to help Journalist 2 if it also helped Journalist 1 because he wanted to see the latter “progress.”

Several days after the April 27 Twitter direct message conversation, Frese spoke with both reporters on the phone. Shortly after, the indictment said, Journalist 1 published an article that contained information from the intelligence report Frese is accused of accessing. Journalist 1 subsequently tweeted a link to the article, which Frese retweeted.

Frese again accessed two intelligence reports late last month, and subsequently texted Journalist 2 to call him, according to the indictment, which said the FBI intercepted the text message. About a minute later, according to the FBI intercepts cited in the charging document, Journalist 2 called Frese, and Frese conveyed classified information from the reports to the journalist.

The indictment went on to say:

  • Frese knew the reports he accessed contained classified information related to the US’s national defence.
  • Frese was not authorised to “transmit” the information from the documents, and was aware that he wasn’t allowed to do so.
  • Frese was also aware that the news outlets he allegedly leaked to were not authorised to receive or possess that information.

Frese “was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

“The unauthorised disclosure of TOP SECRET information could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security of the United States,” the statement added.

Disclosure: Amanda Macias used to work at Insider before joining CNBC.

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