Former FBI agent sentenced to 4 years in jail for leaking to reporter

Former FBI agent sentenced to 4 years in jail for leaking to reporter
© Getty Images

A former FBI agent in Minnesota was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison after he pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents to a reporter.

The Associated Press reported that Terry Allbury, 39, was sentenced after he admitted in April that he leaked classified materials to a reporter between February 2016 and February 2017.

The materials that disclosed how the FBI evaluates confidential informants and detailed threats posed "by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country."

Allbury's defense asked for probation in the case, arguing that he was morally conflicted by the FBI's policies and viewed them as racial profiling, the AP reported.

ADVERTISEMENT

The prosecution asked the judge to sentence the former agent to more than four years in prison. Allbury betrayed public trust with his actions and threatened security, they claimed.

Allbury plead guilty in April to one count each of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and unauthorized retention of national defense information.

The AP reported that a group of 17 legal scholars focused on constitutional law and media law filed a brief asking the court to weigh free speech protections against possible threats to national security when sentencing Allbury.

While the charges against Allbury did not name the reporter or news outlet involved, the dates during which he leaked the information coincide with when when The Intercept published a piece titled “The FBI’s Secret Rules,” based on a trove of secret FBI documents.

The Intercept responded by saying Allbury was a victim of "racial profiling and discrimination" that is common within the FBI.

"He faced prosecution under the Espionage Act not because he harmed national security but because authorities found his disclosures inconvenient or embarrassing," the outlet said in a statement.

The Intercept continued in its statement because of surveillance tools and monitoring, the U.S. government does not need subpoenas to track down journalists' sources.

"And the easier it gets for them, the colder the climate becomes for journalism that challenges the over-classification of documents and the extreme and unjustifiable secrecy of institutions like the FBI that ought to be more transparent and accountable to the public," it said.

Thursday's sentencing is the latest development in what has been a concerted effort by the Trump administration to crack down on leaks.

A senior official working for the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) was charged Wednesday with leaking confidential financial reports on former Trump campaign advisers Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortJustice Department intervenes, keeps Manafort from being sent to Rikers Island: report Justice Department intervenes, keeps Manafort from being sent to Rikers Island: report The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Supreme Court double jeopardy ruling could impact Manafort MORE, Richard Gates and others to a media outlet.

James Wolfe, a former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of making false statements to the FBI about his communication with journalists.