Federal appeals court upholds almost all convictions of former CIA officer News
Federal appeals court upholds almost all convictions of former CIA officer

[JURIST] A panel consisting of three judges from the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] affirmed [opinion, PDF] all but one conviction of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who was convicted [JURIST report] in 2015 for disclosing classified information to a journalist. The information was about national defense strategy in Iran. The panel reversed one of the convictions on the grounds of improper venue. Sterling argued that some of the evidence had been improperly admitted by the lower court, but the appeals panel ruled that the admission was proper. Sterling still denies [WP report] that he was the one who passed along the classified information. The panel also affirmed his 42-month sentence, saying that since the sentence would have been fair for any one of the convictions, it is irrelevant that one of the convictions was dropped. A previous panel of the same court ruled [opinion] in 2013, regarding the same case, that there are no First Amendment protections to prevent journalists from being compelled to reveal their sources in criminal proceedings.

Thursday’s decision is the latest in a long line of prosecutions for the prevention of national security leaks. In 2015 a former military contractor was sentenced [JURIST report] for stealing classified files. In August 2013 Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning was sentenced [JURIST report] to 35 years in prison for her disclosure of classified information to the anti-secrecy organization Wikileaks, and she has since been released. In June 2013 Edward Snowden, a former government employee and contractor, was charged [JURIST report] with disclosing to newspaper reporters information about US intelligence activities that he obtained during the course of his work, raising significant First Amendment concerns [JURIST op-ed] over the Espionage Act.