[The Intercept reports](https://theintercept.com/2019/10/09/the-espionage-act-is-again-deployed-against-a-government-official-leaking-to-the-media/) that in an eight-page indictment, prosecutors alleged that Henry Kyle Frese, a 30-year-old counterterrorism analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, accessed intelligence reports unrelated to his job and discussed their contents with two reporters. The indictment describes one intelligence report as being “related to a certain foreign country’s weapons systems.”
According to an affidavit to seize Frese’s cellphone that was also unsealed, a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia authorized Frese’s communications to be monitored in August, which allowed the FBI to intercept his phone calls and access his private messages on social media.
The indictment does not name either of the reporters, but contains information news outlets have used to identify them as Amanda Macias, a national security reporter for CNBC, and Courtney Kube, a national security reporter for NBC. Last year, CNBC published a story that the Chinese military was heavily fortifying islands “west of the Philippines,” which cited American “intelligence assessments.”
NBC also published a much-cited series of stories in 2018 with Kube’s byline saying U.S. intelligence assessed that North Korea was concealing a growing nuclear program, despite Trump’s Twitter assurances that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”
# The Espionage Act treats leakers and whistleblowers as spies
Congressional Democrats have reacted with indignation as Trump has recently referred to whistleblowers in the Ukraine affair as spies.
In a statement to the press, Assistant AG for National Security John Demers said, “Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain.”
Criminal probes into media leaks were extremely rare before 2009, but the Obama administration launched an unprecedented crackdown using the 1917 Espionage Act.
Civil liberties and press freedom advocates have objected to the use of the World War I-era law, because it prevents defendants from asserting at trial that their disclosures were in the public interest.
According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, the Trump administration has prosecuted seven government employees for leaking information to the press on a wide range of topics, four of them using the Espionage Act. In 2017, the Trump administration arrested and charged Air Force veteran and National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner with leaking a document about Russian attempts to hack into voting infrastructure in 2016. Last year, the Trump administration charged officials in the Treasury Department and IRS with leaking information about suspicious bank transactions that involved Trump associates Manafort and Cohen, respectively.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified in 2017 that the Justice Department had more than **two dozen** open investigations into media leaks.