A former FBI agent has been charged by the Department of Justice with “knowingly and willfully” leaking classified documents to a news organization.
According to NPR, former Minnesota FBI agent Terry Albury was charged this week with two counts of leaking classified information, including documents that detail how the FBI uses “race and religion” to profile potential targets.
The information itself was leaked to the news outlet The Intercept between February 2016 and Jan. 31, 2017.
Albury was charged with “felony information,” which experts say points to the fact that he will most likely plead guilty, The Associated Press reported.
Albury’s lawyers stated that their client was driven to share the information by a “conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI.”
“Terry Albury served the U.S. with distinction both here at home and abroad in Iraq,” a statement from his attorneys read. “He accepts full responsibility for the conduct set forth in the Information.”
Albury, who served as the only African-American FBI field agent in Minnesota, was assigned to be the liaison working for counterterrorism matters at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
“The FBI believes that the classified and/or controlled nature of the documents indicates the News Outlet obtained these documents from someone with direct access to them,” according to a warrant filed in Minneapolis federal court.
“Furthermore, reviews of the FBI internal records indicate ALBURY has electronically accessed over two-thirds of the approximately 27 documents via trusted access granted to him on FBI information systems,” the warrant reads.
The charges against Albury also allege that from April 7, 2017, to Aug. 28, 2017, he kept tabs on an online platform used by certain terrorist groups, and failed to report this information to another fellow federal employee.
In January 2017, The Intercept published a series of articles titled “The FBI’s Secret Rules,” allegedly based on Albury’s leaked documents, which show the “depth and broad powers” of the expansion and recruitment efforts of the FBI since 9/11. according to MPR.
The information from Albury also claims the FBI continues to use religion, race, ethnicity and nationality in order to determine which communities or individuals to investigate.
Another affidavit points to discussions between a co-worker and Albury, in which Albury wrote in an e-mail that “if (the Office of Professional Responsibility) does not respond, let me go on record and say i will contact the press,” according to the Star Tribnue.
However, The Intercept’s editor in chief, Betsy Reed, said in a statement that the company does not disclose “anonymous sources” and adheres to the Espionage Act in order to protect whistleblowers. She claimed that all journalists have a First Amendment right to share these stories.
The charges against Albury come at a time when the Trump administration has indicated there will be strict punishments levied on those who leak classified information.
In August 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would be cracking down on those individuals and that the number of leaks since January of that year had “more than tripled.”
“I have this warning for would-be leakers: Don’t do it,” Sessions said, adding that the DOJ had already received as many criminal referrals for the leaking of classified information than in the previous three years combined.
“I strongly agree with the president,” he added. “And condemn in the strongest terms the staggering number of leaks.”
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