A former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst has pleaded guilty to sharing top secret information with two reporters and now faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
Henry Kyle Frese, 31, of Alexandria, Virginia, pleaded guilty to willful transmission of top secret materials to the two journalists in 2018. One of the two journalists was his then-girlfriend, who he lived with at the time.
“By disseminating the same classified information, he had pledged to protect, Henry Kyle Frese put the US and our national defense equities in danger,” said Timothy R. Slater, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office.
The girlfriend, Amanda Macias, a national security reporter for CNBC, published eight articles that revealed classified national defense information on weapons systems of foreign countries, according to a justice department statement.
It appears that the FBI investigation tracked Frese’s accessing of classified documents and his public social media connection with Macias as it acquired search warrants for his phone and vehicle. Agents also conducted a wiretap of his phone, tracking calls that closely coincided with stories later being published by Macias and another reporter.
Macias direct messaged Frese on Twitter, asking if he would be willing to share more information with another reporter, according to court documents.
Frese told Macias he would be willing to share more information with other reporters if it would help her career. He later shared classified information with Courtney Kube, a Pentagon reporter for NBC News, according to court documents.
Though in court documents both Macias and Kube are identified as Journalist 1 and Journalist 2, they have since been publicly identified by multiple media outlets.
The weapons systems identified in Macias and Kube’s co-authored article were Chinese military anti-ship missiles.
At least twice, Frese retweeted his girlfriend’s posts on Twitter that announced the publication of her stories using the classified information, according to the justice statement.
Neither Macias nor Kube responded to requests for comment.
Using a wiretap of Frese’s phone, authorities were able to determine that at least 12 times, Frese shared top secret information with Macias from April to May 2018. He accessed intelligence reports unrelated to his job in counterterrorism analysis.
On separate occasions, Frese searched for specific intelligence report information then called either Macias or Kube to share the information over the phone. In one instance, Macias published an online article with some of the shared information about 30 minutes after a call with Frese.
“He alerted our country’s adversaries to sensitive national defense information, putting the nation’s security at risk,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “The government takes these breaches seriously and will use all the resources at our disposal to apprehend and prosecute those who jeopardize the safety of this country and its citizens.”
Frese’s sharing was not limited to journalists, according to court documents. Between early 2018 and October 2019, he also communicated with an unidentified overseas counterterrorism consulting group through social media and transmitted classified information to that group at least twice.
Frese worked for DIA either as a contractor or employee from January 2017 to October 2019, according to court documents.
The former DIA analyst was arrested in October. He pleaded guilty to charges Thursday and is scheduled for sentencing in federal court on June 18.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.