Two Brits to Go On Trial For Leak to Press

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Two British men were ordered Tuesday to stand trial later this month on charges of leaking a government memo in which U.S. President George W. Bush reportedly discussed bombing the headquarters of the Arab satellite news channel Al-Jazeera.

Civil servant David Keogh, 49, and Leo O’Connor, 42, a legislator’s former researcher, were charged in November with breaching the Official Secrets Act. Both men are free on bail as they await trial.

Judge Timothy Workman said the men’s trial would begin with a preliminary hearing at the Central Criminal Court on Jan. 24.

Prosecutors allege that Keogh passed the document to O’Connor between April 16 and May 28, 2004.

Details of the alleged document were reported by the Daily Mirror, which claimed the memo revealed details of a conversation between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House on April 16, 2004.

According to the newspaper, Blair argued against Bush’s suggestion of bombing Al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The Daily Mirror said its sources disagreed on whether Bush’s suggestion was serious or not.

Blair has said he had no information about any proposed U.S. action against Al-Jazeera, and White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the newspaper’s claims “outlandish and inconceivable.”

Keogh, a former communications officer at the cabinet Office, was charged under Section 3 of the Officials Secrets Act with making a “damaging disclosure of a document relating to international relations” without lawful authority.

O’Connor, who worked for former governing Labour Party legislator Tony Clarke, is charged with receiving the document.

O’Connor indicated at an earlier hearing that he intended to plead not guilty. Keogh did not say on Tuesday how he intended to plead.

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