Steve Rosen, recently terminated as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) policy director in the wake of an FBI investigation, expects to be indicted as soon as June, according to sources who know the case.
Rosen has suggested to sources that if he were indicted, he would want an opportunity to clear his name. Rosen expects that a trial could begin as early as January 2006 and already is preparing for a long defense, according to multiple sources.
Along with AIPAC's former senior Iran analyst, Keith Weissman, and former Pentagon Iran analyst Larry Franklin, Rosen has been targeted by the FBI's counterintelligence division for allegedly verbally passing classified information to Israel.
Franklin was arrested May 4 and charged with verbally transmitting classified information during a June 26, 2003, luncheon at Tivoli, an Arlington, Va., restaurant. Franklin was not indicted by a grand jury but was arrested on an FBI affidavit, a move that Rosen has said he sees as a government effort to pressure Franklin into claiming there was an actual conspiracy, which he denies.
Franklin, who negotiated a plea bargain with the FBI before he had independent counsel, has since backed away from the deal, according to Franklin defense sources.
Rosen has vehemently denied violating federal law, and denied that he knowingly transmitted classified information. In one of two instances in which Franklin allegedly spoke with AIPAC staffers, this one in a Virginia mall, Rosen was not present, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the encounter.
Rosen's attorney, Abbe Lowell, has issued a statement saying, "Steve Rosen never solicited, received or passed on any classified documents from Larry Franklin, and Mr. Franklin will never be able to say otherwise."
Neither Rosen nor Lowell would comment on the record for this story.
Rosen has told contacts that he is convinced the government is still looking for "Mr. X" or "Agent X" -- an alleged Israeli master spy in the United States. Jewish communal officials have said they believe the FBI has been seeking a "Mr. X" since the Jonathan Pollard spy scandal in the 1980s.
Rosen has confided to contacts that he believes he still is under surveillance by the FBI, both in his home and in public places. Rosen has said he was under FBI surveillance for three years before the 2003 exchange with Franklin monitored in the restaurant.
Rosen has said, according to sources, that he feels the government's strategy is to pressure Franklin into wrongfully implicating Weissman, and to pressure Weissman into implicating Rosen.
Rosen said, according to sources, "It won't work."Investigative journalist Edwin Black is a New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of "IBM and the Holocaust" and other books.