Washington (AFP) - A counter-terrorism analyst at the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly leaking top secret information to journalists, officials said.
Henry Kyle Frese, 30, of Alexandria, Virginia, was taken into custody when he arrived at work and faces two counts of revealing classified defense information, they said.
"Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain," assistant attorney general John Demers told reporters.
The Justice Department did not reveal the content of the information allegedly leaked by Frese other than to say that it concerned a "foreign country's weapons systems."
The identity of the two journalists to whom Frese allegedly provided classified information was also not disclosed.
The journalists involved appeared to work for CNBC and NBC News, according to information gleaned from the indictment and Frese's Twitter feed.
CNBC, citing "sources with direct knowledge of US intelligence reports," reported in May 2018 that China had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on the contested Spratly Islands.
There was no immediate response from CNBC to a request for comment.
Frese was allegedly in a romantic relationship with one of the two reporters, according to the indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Frese was a contractor with DIA from January 2017 to February 2018, and a full-fledged DIA employee since then, with clearance ranging up to the top secret level, officials said.
The DIA is the US military's intelligence service.
In April or May of last year, Frese allegedly accessed an intelligence report "unrelated to his job duties on multiple occasions" and passed on information to one of the journalists, according to the indictment.
Frese's cell phone was being monitored and he was heard last month transmitting classified information to one of the reporters, it added.
"Frese allegedly disclosed highly classified national defense information, which puts our country and people at risk," FBI special agent Alan Kohler said.
"He violated his oath to serve and protect the United States."
Frese could face up to 10 years in prison for each count of transmitting classified information.