Ex-CIA officer faces up to 120 years for leaking secrets

James Risen

James Risen

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A former CIA officer, who sued the Agency after he was fired, was arrested last Thursday in St. Louis, Missouri n charges of leaking classified information about a botched CIA covert operation in Iran. There is no information on the indictment about the recipient of the information that was leaked by Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, who worked for the CIA from 1993 until 2002. But it is common knowledge Sterling spoke to James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for The New York Times. In 2002, Risen wrote an article about Sterling’s lawsuit, in which the plaintiff claimed he was told by his superiors that he was “too big and black” to operate covertly overseas. According to the indictment, in 2003, after Sterling’s lawsuit was thrown out on national security grounds, he started leaking information (presumably to Risen), which he had gathered while working for the CIA’s Iran Task Force. Risen reportedly tried to publish Sterling’s disclosures, but The New York Times declined to print them, after its editors were warned by the White House that they would be severely detrimental to national security. Risen held on to the information, and published it in his 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. In chapter 9 of the book, he details a botched operation by the Iran Task Force to pass to the Iranians a series of faulty nuclear bomb design documents. To do this, the CIA apparently recruited a Russian former nuclear scientist, who had defected to the United States. The unnamed scientist was told to travel to Vienna, Austria, in early 2000, and offer to sell the documents to the Iranians. But the documents contained a deliberate technical flaw, which, Risen alleges, the Russian CIA operative thought was so obvious that it could endanger the entire mission, by making him look untrustworthy in the eyes of the Iranians. The Russian scientist ended up letting the Iranians know about the flaw, reveals Risen. He further alleges that the CIA operation may have actually helped the Iranian nuclear weapons program, as Iranian scientists would have been able to “extract valuable information from the blueprints while ignoring the flaws”. Speaking to reporters, Risen said he had not cooperated with government prosecutors. Sterling’s indictment is the fifth high-profile prosecution of a former government official in connection with a leak under the Obama Administration. If convicted, he faces up to 120 years in prison.

About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

One Response to Ex-CIA officer faces up to 120 years for leaking secrets

  1. If the CIA’s A-bomb blueprint leak to Iran is true, then the USA knowingly violated the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which she is a signatory and has ratified it. Signed and ratified international treaties trump all national legislations and therefore US state secrets privilege is null and void in the case. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling could appeal to the IAEA in Vienna to grant him immunity under the UN treaty and to prosecute CIA boesses in international court, if they ordered to hand over nuclear bomb data to Iran.

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