Justice Department signs offon United-Continental deal

The Justice Department said Friday that it has no more antitrust concerns about the deal that would combine United and Continental into the world’s largest airline.

To win that approval, the airlines had to open the door to Southwest Airlines at Continental’s hub in Newark, N.J., where it is the dominant carrier. The Justice Department said leasing takeoff and landing permission to Southwest in Newark cleared up its main competitive concern.

Shareholders at Continental Airlines Inc. and United parent UAL Corp. are set to vote on the deal on Sept. 17, and the Transportation Department has to approve it. The airlines now expect the deal to close by Oct. 1.

The combined airline would leapfrog Delta Air Lines Inc. to become the world’s biggest airline.


Contractor faces charge of leaking defense data

The Obama administration Friday accused an analyst who worked at the State Department of leaking top-secret information about North Korea to a reporter.

Steven Kim, who worked at State as an employee of a contractor, maintains his innocence.

He was named in an indictment unsealed Friday and charged with illegally disclosing national defense information, which carries a top penalty of 10 years in prison, and with making false statements to the FBI, which has a maximum five-year term.

The Justice Department said  that Kim in June 2009 knowingly passed information about U.S. intelligence concerning a foreign country to a national news organization and in September 2009 falsely denied to the FBI having had recent contacts with a reporter from that organization.

A person briefed on the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters not included in the filing, said the country was North Korea and the news organization was Fox News.

After an hourlong closed hearing, Abbe D. Lowell, one of Kim’s attorneys, said Kim pleaded not guilty and was released.

He posted a $100,000 secured appearance bond, had to surrender his passport, may engage in no foreign travel and must restrict all travel to within 25 miles unless prior notice is given to the government, the Justice Department said in a statement.

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