AIPAC has agreed to pay legal fees for a former staffer who is accused of receiving and relaying classified information on Iran, the latest blow to the prosecution’s efforts to isolate the defendants.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s about-face announcement comes the same week as the judge in the Espionage Act case against two former AIPAC staffers argued that the pro-Israel lobby should be paying their legal fees.

A source close to AIPAC told JTA over the weekend that the organization would pay legal fees for Keith Weissman, AIPAC’s former Iran analyst, “through appeal, if necessary.”

The government alleges that Rosen and Weissman received classified information about Iran from a Pentagon analyst and relayed it to journalists, colleagues and Israeli diplomats. It’s the first time that a statute of the 1917 Espionage Act criminalizing civilian use of classified information has been applied.

Defense sources confirm the deal between AIPAC and Arent Fox, the firm representing Weissman. There’s no such deal yet with Abbe Lowell, who represents Weissman’s co-defendant, Steve Rosen, but negotiations are under way.

One reason for the delay apparently is Lowell’s recent switch from the Chadbourne Parke legal firm to McDermott Will and Emery. Lowell would have to work out a payment deal that would address claims by both firms.


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