Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for leaking to a journalist. It was the longest sentenced issued under President Barack Obama’s administration by a federal court as punishment for a leak.
During a trial in January, he was convicted of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses. The government convinced a jury, with largely circumstantial evidence, that Sterling had leaked information about a top secret CIA operation in Iran called “Operation Merlin” to New York Times reporter James Risen, who later published details on the operation in a chapter of his book, State of War. (“Operation Merlin” involved the passage of flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran in order to get them to work on building a nuclear weapon that would never function.)
The government pushed hard for Sterling to be sentenced to prison as long as 19 to 24 years.
This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast Jesselyn Radack is the show’s guest. Radack is the director of the National Security and Human Rights Division of the Government Accountability Project. She has represented a number of prominent whistleblowers, such as Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, and, currently, Edward Snowden. She is also a Justice Department whistleblower.
During the interview, Radack discusses Sterling’s sentence and compares his case to recent leak prosecutions. She highlights how he is a whistleblower and highlights the personal toll that a prosecution like this can take on a person. She reacts to some notable statements Sterling made in his first interview, which was produced by the advocacy organization, Expose Facts. In the final portion of the interview, Radack reacts to the ridiculous letter to the Times from former CIA directors, including some who leaked the names of covert agents. They lecture the Times on the need to protect the names of CIA officials involved in the drone program.
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