Ex-CIA officer pleads not guilty to leaking info

Lawyer for Jeffrey Sterling criticizes the government for not going after newspaper for disseminating secrets

Topics: CIA,

Ex-CIA officer pleads not guilty to leaking info

An ex-CIA officer pleaded not guilty Friday to illegally leaking classified documents about agency programs in Iran to a New York Times reporter.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for former officer Jeffrey Sterling criticized the government for prosecuting his client while failing to go after the reporter and publisher who produced the book that purportedly disseminated the leaked secrets. Sterling had worked on the CIA’s Iran Task Force.

“The government seems to find a way to indict the most minor players while the publishers and media get off the hook. Sources beware,” defense attorney Edward MacMahon said outside the courtroom after the hearing.

The law governing illegal disclosures of classified information makes it a crime not only for a government employee to leak documents, but also for a reporter or anyone else who receives the information to make it public. But the law is rarely used to prosecute non-government officials, and it has proven problematic for prosecutors in the past.

At Friday’s arraignment, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema did not set a trial date. MacMahon said he has not yet been able to discuss the case in detail with his client because he does not yet have the necessary clearances.

The judge was dismayed that McMahon had not yet been cleared, as he was appointed to represent Sterling in part because he has had numerous clearances in other sensitive cases, including that of al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

Brinkema also told prosecutors it will be impossible to conduct an open trial if the government continues to try to keep basic facts of the case out of public view.

For example, the indictment accuses Sterling of leaking information and documents to a reporter identified only as “author A,” even though it is clear from details in the indictment and from numerous reports that the author is New York Times reporter James Risen.

Risen’s 2006 book “State of War” revealed details about the CIA’s covert spy war with Iran. Risen has not cooperated with investigators.

“It will be impossible to prosecute this case without some of that being out,” Brinkema told prosecutors.

Prosecutor William Welch said the government will be willing to disclose certain facts as the case proceeds.

Sterling, 43, of O’Fallon, Mo., has a long, contentious history with the CIA. He served as an officer from 1993 to 2002 and filed a racial discrimination complaint with the agency’s Equal Opportunity office in 2000. He followed that up with several federal lawsuits.

Brinkema has been publicly critical of the CIA after agency officials falsely said video and audio tapes of al-Qaida interrogations in the Moussaoui case did not exist. The agency corrected itself after the trial, and Brinkema said at the time that she could no longer trust CIA representations about classified evidence in terrorism cases.

Sterling is currently in jail pending a detention hearing set for Wednesday. The government opposes sterling’s release.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>