WASHINGTON - The FBI has interviewed an influential foreign affairs specialist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as part of its investigation into whether a Pentagon analyst improperly leaked classified information to Israel, sources said yesterday.
In addition, officials in Jerusalem identified a senior Israeli diplomat in Washington who had met with the Pentagon aide who is the focus of the probe, but who denied any wrongdoing.
The disclosures came during an unfolding espionage investigation, as federal agents try to determine whether Larry Franklin, a longtime official with the Defense Intelligence Agency and veteran Iran analyst at the Pentagon, disclosed classified material on that country to AIPAC officials, who passed it along to the Israeli government.
Both the lobbying group and Israeli officials - who have expressed a steadily mounting concern about Iran's expanding nuclear capability - have strenuously denied wrongdoing. Franklin has not responded to requests for comment. Over the weekend, FBI agents briefed the Pentagon's third-ranking official, who oversees the office where Franklin works.
The case has focused attention on AIPAC, one of Washington's most potent political forces, and has raised questions about how the United States shares information with allies.
Sources said that within the past week, the FBI has interviewed two AIPAC employees who are said to have met with Franklin and received the information that agents think might have been compromised.
One of those interviewed, Steve Rosen, is the group's director of foreign policy issues; the FBI also interviewed a senior Middle East analyst for AIPAC, Keith Weissman. Neither could be reached yesterday.
Rosen, a one-time professor of international relations, is credited with turning the lobbying muscle of AIPAC toward the executive branch in the 1980s in an effort to build on the successes it enjoyed in Congress in leading the fight for foreign aid to Israel.
It was not known what Rosen or Weissman told the FBI.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.