On Tuesday, a former FBI agent found himself facing several years in prison after pleading guilty in a federal St. Paul courtroom to leaking classified documents to the media.
Former FBI Minnesota counterterrorism FBI agent Terry Albury, 39, pled guilty to a single count of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and a single count of unauthorized retention of national defense information. In a statement, the Department of Justice reports:
According to court documents, beginning in 2016 and continuing through August 2017, Albury knowingly and willfully disclosed national defense information, classified at the Secret level, to a reporter. Albury employed methods to avoid detection, including printing documents that he created by cutting and pasting portions of an original document into a new document so as to avoid leaving a record of having printed the original, classified document. Albury also accessed documents on a classified computer and took pictures of the computer screen in order to photograph certain classified documents. Those additional classified documents were recovered on an electronic storage device found during a search of his home.
“Today, Terry Albury admitted to violating his oath to protect our country by disclosing to a reporter classified information that, as an FBI agent, he was entrusted to protect,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers. “Albury admitted that his actions put America at risk. As this prosecution demonstrates, we will not waver in our commitment to pursue and hold accountable government officials who violate their obligations to protect our nation’s secrets and break the laws they have sworn to uphold.”
“Mr. Albury was entrusted by the FBI with a security clearance, which included a responsibility to protect classified national defense information. Instead, he knowingly disclosed that material to someone not authorized to receive it,” said Assistant Director Bill Priestap of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “The FBI will work tirelessly to bring to justice those who would expose America’s secrets. Today, as the result of the hard work of dedicated special agents, analysts, and prosecutors, Mr. Albury has taken responsibility for his illegal action.”
The New York Times noted that the “Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have made prosecuting government employees who leak sensitive information to the media a high priority.”
This is significant given the recent controversy surrounding former FBI Director James Comey, whose recent interview on ABC News and book launch have increased the public’s overall support for seeing the Trump administration criminally prosecute him for allegedly leaking classified information to the media.