|NMU||GEORGIA||Freedom of Information|
Former DEA analyst sentenced for leaking information
- A federal judge sentenced a DEA employee to one year in prison for selling “sensitive” information to a British newspaper.
Jan. 15, 2003 — U.S. District Judge Richard Story sentenced Jonathan Randel, a former analyst in the Atlanta office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, to one year in prison for selling restricted federal information. Randel also was ordered to serve three additional years supervised release.
Randel was convicted of providing “sensitive” DEA information about British financier Michael Ashcroft to the UK-based London Times.
The Times used the information along with documents obtained through a U.S. Freedom of Information Act request to profile U.S. government investigations into Ashcroft’s Belize-based business activities.
Randel pleaded guilty to the charges in June 2002.
Because Randel had signed a “reporting responsibility/nondisclosure agreement” with the DEA, his leaking information violated federal law.
“The judge upon sentencing used an analogy that this is like a drunk driver that got home safely,” said Atlanta DEA spokesperson Ruth Porter-Whipple. “The potential for danger was disastrous.”
In a report in the London-based Guardian, Alastair Brett, legal advisor to the Times condemned the sentence: “The judge’s sentence on this man is monstrous. Journalists talk to all sorts of people like M15, M16, customs, and we don’t expect them to be banged up for it. His lawyer thinks he haw a good case to appeal. We did pay money to Mr. Randell but it was a research fee.”
Stephen Sadow, Randel’s attorney called the verdict harsh. He said that the post-September 11th atmosphere “heightened concerned that information was being leaked, and made it extremely difficult to go in front of a jury.”
Randel is released on bail pending a decision to appeal.
© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press