Alexandria, Va. Condoleezza Rice's spokesman on Saturday branded as "utterly false" a lawyer's claim the secretary of state leaked national defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist charged with receiving and disclosing such information.
The assertion came as a judge granted a defense request to issue subpoenas for Rice and three other government officials in the trial of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, the former lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee charged in the case.
"The claims by these defense lawyers are utterly false," Rice's spokesman, Sean McCormack, told The Associated Press.
"The secretary is the most careful person in the handling of classified information, and she absolutely did not convey classified information to either of these individuals," McCormack said.
Defense lawyers want a judge to dismiss the charges because the lawyers believe the case seeks to criminalize the type of backchannel exchanges among government officials, lobbyists and the press that are common in Washington.
During Friday's hearing, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said he is considering dismissing the entire case because the law used to prosecute Rosen and Weissman may be unconstitutionally vague and broad and may infringe on freedom of speech.
Rosen's attorney, Abbe Lowell, said the testimony of Rice and others is needed to show that some top government officials approved of disclosing sensitive information to the defendants and that the leaks may have been authorized.
But Assistant U.S. Atty. Kevin DiGregory said Rice "never gave national defense information to Mr. Rosen."