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United States

Former FBI agent sentenced to 4 years in prison for leaking classified documents to media

The judge told Terry Albury he had abused his security clearance and position as an FBI agent

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 October, 2018, 5:46am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 October, 2018, 6:11am

A former FBI agent in Minnesota who admitted leaking classified defence documents to a reporter was sentenced on Thursday to four years in prison.

Terry Albury, 39, pleaded guilty in April to one count each of unauthorised disclosure of national defence information and unauthorised retention of national defence information. He apologised in court before the sentence was handed down.

Prosecutors said Albury betrayed public trust when he stole more than 70 documents, including 50 that were classified. The information he shared with an online news organisation included a document classified as “secret” that related to how the FBI assesses confidential informants.

Albury’s defence lawyers had asked for probation, saying he acted patriotically and was morally conflicted by the FBI’s counterterrorism policies that he viewed as racial profiling.

Albury is the son of an Ethiopian political refugee and was the only black agent assigned to a counterterrorism squad that investigated Somali-Americans in Minnesota.

US District Judge Wilhelmina Wright admonished Albury after announcing the sentence, telling him he had abused his security clearance and position as an FBI agent to commit a crime.

“You did so knowingly. You did so willingly. You knew that what you did was a criminal act, and you knew that you were putting the nation’s security at risk,” the judge, who is also black, told Albury.

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She said the prison sentence reflected the seriousness of the offences and should deter others from doing something similar.

The Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have made prosecuting government employees who leak sensitive information to the media a priority.

Sessions said last year that the Justice Department had more than tripled the number of active leak investigations since President Barack Obama left office.

Albury was accused of sharing documents with an online news organisation, including one document, dated August 17, 2011, that related to how the FBI assesses confidential informants.

The date of that document and its subject matter corresponded with a January 31, 2017, story on The Intercept.