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Posted at 1:20 PM ET, 01/25/2011

Ex-CIA officer accused of leaking secrets gets bond

By Maria Glod

A former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information to a New York Times reporter was ordered released from jail on Tuesday pending a trial set for September.

Jeffrey A. Sterling, 43, of O'Fallon, Mo., who worked for the CIA from 1993 to 2002, is accused of leaking secrets after he was fired from the CIA and the agency refused to settle a racial discrimination claim he made. He is charged in federal court in Alexandria with 10 felony counts, including obstruction of justice and unauthorized disclosure of national defense information.

The indictment does not identify the alleged recipient of the classified information. But U.S. officials and lawyers familiar with the case said the journalist is New York Times reporter James Risen.

The case against Sterling is one of several that have come amid the Obama adminstration's crackdown on revelations of government secrets to the media.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema on Tuesday released Sterling on a $10,000 bond pending trial under the conditions that he stay with friends in Virginia, avoid contact with witnesses in the case except in the company of his attorneys and make an effort to obtain a job. He must undergo a psychiatric evaluation and can't leave the Washington metropolitan area without prior approval.

"The danger posed by the defendant to national security at this point is somewhat reduced because of the number of years he's been away from the job," Brinkema said.

Federal authorities allege that Sterling, who was involved in spying efforts against Iran, shared details of sensitive CIA operations. They included, authorities allege, an effort code-named Merlin that was aimed at degrading Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program by sabotaging materials acquired by Iran.

The New York Times did not publish an article, but details about the Merlin operation appeared in Risen's 2006 book, "State of War."

Edward B. MacMahon Jr., Sterling's attorney, has said his client has "maintained his innocence."

In court papers, MacMahon questioned the strength of the government's case.
"The Government, which presumably has been investigating this case for over six years, does not even provide the Court with a single statement or email from Mr. Sterling to 'Author A' that mentions any of the classified information apparently at issue in this case," MacMahon said. "It fails to provide the Court any intercepted phone call, intercepted letter, intercepted email, a confession or any direct evidence that Mr. Sterling ever provided any classified matter for over six years."

Brinkema set a Sept. 12 trial date.

By Maria Glod  | January 25, 2011; 1:20 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse, Maria Glod  
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Comments

If Karl Rove can get away with outing a covert CIA operative, why should this guy get in any trouble?

Posted by: MarilynManson | January 25, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

You think you were discriminated against, so you leak secrets? That's mature.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 25, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"If Karl Rove can get away......."

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts we'd all have a Merry Christmas.

Posted by: roncee | January 25, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't get it. Why is this yutz's crime any different from the WikiLeaks leaker currently under 24-hour segregation in Quantico?

Posted by: bs2004 | January 25, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I believe that the NY Times reporter should also face charges.

Manson, it wasn't Karl Rove.

Posted by: PZ007 | January 25, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Marlyn..honey chile.....I know you love the big lie and say it over and over to yourself before you go to sleep, So I hate to break this to you.

Karl Rove had nothing to do with revealing Valerie Plame's identity to the Media. Neither did Cheney. Scooter Libbey was accused...in a trumped up trial, he was convicted by a Washington DC lefty jury, not of revealing Plame's identity but of getting some facts mixed up.

And why was he not convicted of Plame's "outing"? Because Novak told the Prosecutor long before any trial got underway that the "outer" was Democrat hold over Richard Armitage and Armitage admitted it. So the trial of Libby for that "crime" was a crime in itself, trying a man the prosecutor knew to be innocent from the git-go.

So Ms Manson, hope you're not too disappointed. Oh don't worry, you can always dream some more about your Buddies the Khmer Rouge, or Stalin or you know...strolling in the Red killing fields again should buck you up.

Oh, and keep up the "dis-information." It really does get funny sometimes.

Posted by: wjc1va | January 25, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, this is interesting. This dude leaked an operation that Valerie Plame bragged she was apart of.

I guess it would be too much to aks the media to suss out Valerie's connection to the fellow.

I bet strong and I bet BLACK Jeffrey A. Sterling is paying the price of being Valerie Wilson and Joseph's good friend.

Posted by: accentmark | January 27, 2011 12:37 AM | Report abuse

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