Everything online journalists need to protect their legal rights. This free resource culls from all Reporters Committee resources and includes exclusive content on digital media law issues.
AP Photo by Timothy Jacobsen
The Obama Administration has indicted six government employees under the 1917 Espionage Act for sharing classified information with the press — more than all previous administrations combined. However, all of the employees whose cases have seen the inside of the courtroom have had all or part of the Espionage Act charges against them dropped.
April 2010 - National Security Agency official Thomas Drake was indicted for communicating with a Baltimore Sun reporter about the NSA’s Trailblazer project, a domestic surveillance program. In 2011, Drake pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor unrelated to the Espionage Act and avoided a 35-year prison sentence. Drake was instead sentenced to probation and community service.
May 2010 - FBI translator Shamai Leibowitz pleaded guilty to sharing classified information about FBI wiretaps with a blogger and was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
June 2010 - Army private Bradley Manning was arrested for allegedly leaking a quarter-million classified documents to whistleblower website WikiLeaks and was indicted under the act in 2012. In February, Manning pleaded guilty to lesser charges but entered not guilty pleas to charges under the Espionage Act. His case is ongoing.
Aug. 2010 - Stephen Kim, a State Department contractor, was indicted for giving classified information about North Korea to Fox News. His case is still pending.
Dec. 2010 - Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was indicted for talking to a New York Times reporter about a CIA program targeting Iran’s nuclear program in the 1990s and was arrested in January 2011. The Times reporter, James Risen, was subpoenaed to testify in Sterling’s trial. A federal appellate court is considering whether to require Risen to testify, and Sterling’s case is still pending.
Jan. 2012 - Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was indicted for giving a reporter the name of an undercover agent and speaking to ABC News about the CIA’s practice of waterboarding interrogations. Kiriakou pleaded guilty to a charge unrelated to the Espionage Act and is serving 2 1/2 years in prison.