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A former CIA officer was indicted last month for allegedly providing a New York Times reporter with classified information. He is the latest in a string of leakers prosecuted by the Obama administration.
Jeffrey Sterling, 43, of O’Fallon, Mo., was indicted on 10 counts, including six counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and one count of obstruction of justice. He was arrested Thursday in St. Louis.
Sterling was indicted Dec. 22, 2010, and the indictment was unsealed Thursday.
Although the indictment only identifies the recipient of the leaked materials as “Author A,” it is believed that Times reporter James Risen was the recipient, a fact that government officials confirmed, The Washington Post reported.
“Author A” was “employed by a national newspaper and wrote newspaper articles about the CIA and the intelligence community generally” and “authored a book about the CIA,” according to the indictment.
Risen, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for a series of articles exposing the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretap program, was subpoenaed by the Bush and Obama administrations regarding the confidential sources cited in his 2006 book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration."
Risen fought the subpoenas and never testified. The second subpoena was quashed by a federal judge in November 2010, Risen told the Times. In 2002, the paper published a story authored by Risen about Sterling’s discrimination case against the CIA. The story cited Sterling as a source.
Sterling worked for the CIA from May 1993 until he was fired in January 2002. Even before his firing, Sterling had conflicts with the CIA regarding alleged racial discrimination and the agency’s negative reaction to his proposal for publishing his memoirs.
The indictment alleges that these disputes provided the motive for the leaks.
“Sterling, in retaliation for the CIA’s refusal to settle on terms favorable to him in the civil and administration claims he was pursuing against the CIA, engaged in a scheme to disclose information concerning the classified operational program,” according to the Department of Justice.
While at the CIA, Sterling held a Top Secret security clearance and from November 1998 through May 2000 was assigned to a classified clandestine operational program to conduct intelligence activities related to the weapons capabilities of certain countries, including “Country A,” according to the indictment.
“Country A” is believed to be Iran. In “State of War,” Risen wrote about an alleged CIA program aimed at injuring Iran’s nuclear program.
Sterling is the fifth leaker to be prosecuted by the Obama administration. The others include: former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, who allegedly sent classified information to an unknown newspaper reporter; Stephen Kim, a former Department of State analyst who allegedly leaked an intelligence report to an unidentified reporter; Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army private alleged to have leaked classified information to Wikileaks; and Shamai Leibowitz, a former FBI linguist who was convicted in May 2010 of charges related to the leaking of classified information to an unidentified blogger and sentenced to 20 months in prison.