Henry Kyle Frese is the Petagon counter-terrorism analyst who is accused of leaking documents related to North Korea and China to CNBC’s Amanda Macias and another reporter. Macias was his girlfriend, according to court documents and social media posts. Matthew Keys was the first to identify Macias as “Journalist 1” in the complaint and MSNBCs’ Courtney Kube as the other. Keys also named North Korea as the country in question in the criminal complaint.
A criminal complaint filed on October 9 in Eastern District of Virginia federal court stated Frese, 30, had been “caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain.” The complaint adds that the disclosure of the information, “could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security of the United States.” Frese was working for the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was hired in January 2017 as a contractor and then became a full-time employee with the highest possible security clearance.
Frese, of Alexandria, Virginia, will appear in court on October 9. He was charged with two counts of willful transmission of national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it, the U>S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a statement. Frese could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He remains in federal custody pending his first court appearance on Thursday. He has not yet hired an attorney.
Shortly after the announcement of Frese’s arrest, CNBC announced that Macias had been suspended. Macias and Kube have not commented.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Frese Was Arrested After He Showed Up for Work on the Morning of October 9
The documents say that Henry Kyle Frese was arrested when he showed up for work on the morning of October 9. The arrest came after he was indicted on the two charges by a grand jury.
Neither reporter was named in the complaint but one was said to have been in a relationship with Frese and shared a home with him between August 2017 and August 2018. Public records reveal that Frese and Amanda Macias lived together in Arlington, Virgina. It’s alleged that Frese’s motivation was to further his own career. The reporter who was Frese’s girlfriend, Macias, had passed the information along to another reporter at an affiliated news organization. Macias appears to have a close relationship with Courtney Kube, who works for MSNBC.
According to a review of articles published by Macias and Kube mentioned in those court documents, the leaked information pertained to China and North Korea. In May 2018, Macias wrote a report for CNBC about China quietly installing missile systems on the strategic Spratly Islands in the contested South China Sea. The information was sourced to a Pentagon official.
In June 2018, Kube, along with two other NBC reporters, wrote a highly publicized report about North Korea increasing nuclear production at secret sites. The report contradicted President Trump’s tweet that same month that “there was no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea” following his June 12 summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
The investigation into Frese included a wiretap of his phone, which captured a call on September 24, 2019, he had with Kube in which prosecutors say he gave her classified information.
During the investigation, federal agents intercepted Twitter messages and phone calls between Frese and the reporters. In a press release, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division John Demers said that Frese’s arrest was part of the department’s cracking down on leaking in government agencies. Demers said, “Leaks of classified information cause undeniable damage to our national security. Demers told the media that Frese is the sixth person to be charged in the last six years with leaking information.
“Henry Kyle Frese was entrusted with TOP SECRET information related to the national defense of our country,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Zachary Terwilliger said in a statement. “Frese allegedly violated that trust, the oath he swore to uphold, and is charged with engaging in dastardly and felonious conduct at the expense of our country. This indictment should serve as a clear reminder to all of those similarly entrusted with National Defense Information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic, it is criminal.”
Frese holds a top-secret/sensitive compartmented information U.S. government security clearance, prosecutors said.
2. According to Documents, Frese Was ‘Down to Help’ as He Wanted to See Macias ‘Progress’
According to documents in the case, Frese said that he was “down” to help Journalist 2 if it helped Journalist 1 because he wanted to see Journalist 1 progress.”
The charging documents say that Frese took provided the information to the reporters between mid-April 2018 and early-May 2018. The documents say that between August 2017 and August 2018, “it appears that [Frese and Macias] were involved in a romantic relationship for some or all of that period of time.”
In total, the feds believe that Macias is responsible for writing eight articles based on the information given to her from Frese. Officials have not said if the two journalists in question will be prosecuted for their role in the scandal.
Macias and Kube worked together on a NBC News report on China conducting anti-ship missile tests in the South China Sea that was published in July 2019. The co-bylined report cited two U.S. officials.
3. Frese Has Worked for BAE Systems Since 2016
According to his LinkedIn page, Frese was a senior consultant at BAE Systems in Reston, Virginia. BAE is a British-based multinational defense contractor. Frese says on his LinkedIn page that he is a graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and of the Royal Military College of Canada, where he achieved a Masters of Public Administration, Security, Defense, and Management Policy. Frese is originally from Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
Frese began working at BAE Systems in 2016. Prior to that, he had worked at contractor Booz Allen Hamilton between June 2014 and August 2016.
In his bio section, Frese says that he has spent “5 years experience as a strategic analyst and management consultant.” Frese says that he has worked with the defense and intelligence community. Frese also says that he has worked as a policy analyst and intelligence analyst and covered “a diverse portfolio of topics.”
4. Frese Says He Is Now Focused on Research in Western Africa
Frese has sent out multiple tweets that are critical of President Donald Trump. In March 2018, Frese mocked a potential meeting between Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. In April 2017 joked that former White Advisor Seb Gorka was leaving to “oversee the PhD program at Trump University. In October 2016, Frese complimented South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker saying, “This season of South Park is amazing. Absolutely ruthless against Trump.”
5. Frese Regularly Complimented Macias’ Reporting on His Twitter Page
Frese regularly complimented Macias’ work on his Twitter page. According to Heavy’s searching of Frese’s Twitter page, the messages between him and Macias go back as far as September 2014 and end in 2018. Heavy could find no Twitter interaction between Frese and Courtney Kube. In June 2018, Kube was one of three reporters credited on an NBC News report titled, “North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites, say U.S. officials.” An official is quoted in that story as saying, “Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles.”
On the day of Frese’s arrest, Macias called Courtney Kube the “hardest working mom in the Pentagon press corps.”
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers added in a statement, “As laid out in today’s indictment, Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain. Frese betrayed the trust placed in him by the American people—a betrayal that risked harming the national security of this country. This is one of six unauthorized disclosure cases the Department has charged in just over two years, and we will continue in our efforts to punish and deter this behavior.”
“Mr. Frese allegedly disclosed highly classified national defense information, which puts our country and people at risk,” FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Counterintelligence Division Alan E. Kohler Jr. said in a statement. “He violated his oath to serve and protect the United States. The men and women of the FBI work hard every day to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution – we will not stand by while trusted government employees violate that trust in such an egregious way.”