Tags: jeffrey a sterling | cia | whistleblower | 42 months | sentence

Jeffrey A Sterling, CIA Whistleblower, Sentenced to 42 Months for Leak

Image: Jeffrey A Sterling, CIA Whistleblower, Sentenced to 42 Months for Leak
Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, center, accompanied by his wife Holly, left, and his attorney, Barry Pollack, right, departs federal court in Alexandria, Va., Monday, May 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

By    |   Tuesday, 12 May 2015 12:10 PM

Jeffrey A. Sterling, a former CIA operative, was sentenced to 42 months in prison Monday for leaking secrets to New York Times reporter James Risen for a book.

Government prosecutors say Sterling told Risen about a failed CIA plan to give Iran phony nuclear weapon technical blueprints in hopes of derailing its nuclear weapons program, according to Newsweek. The botched secret plan was revealed in Risen's 2006 book "State of War."

The Sterling conviction and sentencing is one of many times the Obama administration has used a 1917 law to discourage leaks, even though supporters have praised Sterling as a whistleblower.

"The sentence caps a leak investigation that began under President George W. Bush and became a defining case in the Obama administration's crackdown on government leaks," wrote Matt Apuzzo of The New York Times. "Under Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the Justice Department prosecuted more people for having unauthorized discussions with reporters than all prior administrations combined."

Federal prosecutors presented a circumstantial case against Sterling, who was originally charged in 2010 but not tried until now after legal fights kept the case tied up in the court system for years. Prosecutors decided not to call Risen as a witness, even though they could have, according to The Guardian.

Prosecutors also alleged that Sterling was motivated because he was angry with the CIA after he unsuccessfully sued the spy agency for racial discrimination.

"Judge Leonie M. Brinkema gave no indication that she was swayed by the government's argument that the book had disrupted a crucial operation, or harmed national security," Apuzzo wrote for The Times. "She said she was most bothered that the information revealed in 'State of War' had jeopardized the safety of the Russian scientist, who was a CIA informant. Of all the types of secrets kept by American intelligence officers, she said, 'This is the most critical secret.'"

Sterling's attorneys argued that their client's punishment should have been similar to that of former CIA director David Petraeus, who received probation in April for leaking classified information to his biographer and mistress.

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Jeffrey A. Sterling, a former CIA operative, was sentenced to 42 months in prison Monday for leaking secrets to New York Times reporter James Risen for a book.
jeffrey a sterling, cia, whistleblower, 42 months, sentence
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2015-10-12
Tuesday, 12 May 2015 12:10 PM
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