The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed charges against an FBI agent for allegedly leaking secret documents to a reporter, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Wednesday.
The DOJ alleges that Terry Albury, a Minneapolis-based agent, shared a document on FBI informants with an unnamed reporter for a national media organization. In addition, Albury allegedly leaked a document “relating to threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country.”
The Star-Tribune reported that the charges don’t name the reporter or news outlet involved. However, Albury allegedly shared the information between February 2016 and Jan. 31, 2017. The news outlet The Intercept published a piece on Jan. 31, 2017, titled “The FBI’s Secret Rules,” based on a trove of secret FBI documents.
An attorney for Albury and an FBI spokesperson did not respond to the Star-Tribune's requests for comment.
"We understand that there is an Espionage Act prosecution underway against an alleged FBI whistleblower in Minnesota, who is accused of leaking materials relating to the FBI’s use of confidential human sources," Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief of The Intercept, said in a statement to The Hill.
"News reports have suggested that the prosecution may be linked to stories published by The Intercept. We do not discuss anonymous sources. The use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers seeking to shed light on matters of vital public concern is an outrage, and all journalists have the right under the First Amendment to report these stories.”
The Trump administration has taken a harsh stance toward leakers. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE announced in August a governmentwide crackdown on leakers, which included a review of the DOJ's policies on subpoenas for media outlets that publish sensitive information.
Sessions said at the time that the DOJ, FBI and government intelligence agencies would direct more resources into the investigations of government leaks and would prioritize prosecuting those who pass sensitive information along to the press or foreign officials.
The White House has been plagued by leaks to the media since Trump took office. A recent leak of preparations for Trump's phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin launched renewed frustration over the president's staff undermining him.
The White House called the latest leak a "fireable offense and likely illegal” to give Trump’s briefing papers to the news media.
Updated: 6:43 p.m.