On Monday, a former CIA agent was convicted of giving classified information to a New York Times reporter in a case that almost saw that reporter compelled to testify about a strategy to intentionally give Iran false information about nuclear plans. Fired by the CIA in the early 2000s, Jeffrey Sterling was convicted of nine criminal counts on charges alleging that he was seeking revenge on the agency when he provided information to James Risen for his 2006 book State of War. He'll be sentenced April 24.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement about the conviction:
This is a just and appropriate outcome. The defendant's unauthorized disclosures of classified information compromised operations undertaken in defense of America's national security. The disclosures placed lives at risk.
In the book, Risen detailed an operation that was intended to deter Iran’s nuclear program, but which might have actually aided the Iranian nuclear program. For a time, it looked as though Risen would be compelled to testify, despite his repeated statements that he would go to jail before disclosing his sources. Prosecutors ultimately decided not to call Risen to the stand in Sterling's trial, after Holder said he would not be forced to reveal his sources for the book.
Sterling is the latest government operative to be pursued by the Obama administration for giving information to reporters without authorization.
Manning was convicted in 2013 of violating the Espionage Act, after leaking thousands of classified documents about the Iraq war and other details to Wikileaks. Manning, who was assigned male at birth but identifies as a woman, leaked battlefield video and hundreds of thousands of classified Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and State Department diplomatic cables She is serving a 35-year sentence.
Kiriakou was sentenced to nearly three years in prison after he plead guilty to passing classified information to a reporter. Kiriakou told ABC News he believed he was prosecuted because he revealed details of the waterboarding torture programs conducted by CIA interrogators.
Possibly the biggest thorn in the Obama administration's side, former NSA contractor Snowden, fled the country and has not been prosecuted for turning over classified documents to Guardian reporters, that revealed the NSA's widespread surveillance programs. Snowden went to first to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he remains after his passport was canceled by the U.S. State Department.
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