A federal judge Monday refused a request to close portions of the upcoming espionage trial of two former American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyists because doing so would violate the defendants' right to an open trial. The lobbyists, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, were indicted last year under the 1917 Espionage Act for allegedly conspiring to receive and disclose classified US defense information over a five-year period dating back to 1999. The prosecution's plan would have allowed only the judge, lawyers and jury to have access to classified evidence, but this was rejected by US District Judge T.S. Ellis.
In August 2006, Rosen and Weissman asked Ellis to dismiss the charges, arguing that the law is unconstitutionally vague and violates their right to free speech. Ellis, however, upheld the constitutionality of the Espionage Act.