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Korean-American Contractor Indicted for Media Leaks

Posted August. 31, 2010 13:15,   


A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., has indicted Korean American Steven Kim, a former member of the U.S. State Department, on the charge of leaking highly classified information on North Korea to the media.

The indictment was made public Friday. Reuters said Kim, an American citizen, is suspected of violating the Espionage Act, which bans the leak of intelligence on U.S. defense.

Kim was a contractor for the State Department for more than 10 years. In his final years there, he was on detail to the National Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, an agency specializing in the development of nuclear materials in California, to work for the State Department’s Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation.

Kim is suspected of leaking to Fox News classified data on the orientation of Pyongyang’s response after the U.N. Security Council in June last year adopted Resolution 1874, which condemned the North’s nuclear tests.

At the time, the conservative news network said the North was preparing for additional nuclear tests in protest of the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions, quoting a CIA official stationed in Pyongyang as a source. Kim was also charged with making false testimony to an FBI investigation into the case in September last year.

He denied the charges in an Aug. 19 interrogation and was released on bail of 100,000 U.S. dollars. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

Kim’s attorney said, “Punishing a civil servant for holding normal and common dialogue with the media is an excessive obsession meant to control information.”

Immigrating with his family to the U.S. at age nine, Kim earned his bachelor’s from Georgetown University, a master’s from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Yale University.

The Obama administration is cracking down on leaks of classified documents and data to the media, including information on the war in Afghanistan. In May, a contract-based FBI worker was sentenced to 20 months in prison for publicizing classified information on a blog.

A National Security Agency employee is also awaiting trial on the charge of leaking classified documents to The Baltimore Sun.