A former Minnesota FBI agent who admitted to leaking classified documents to a journalist was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison and three years of supervision after his release.
Terry James Albury, 39, pleaded guilty last April to one count each of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and unauthorized retention of national defense information for stealing documents and then sharing them with online news organization The Intercept.
The sentence is less than prosecutors had asked for, arguing that Albury had betrayed public trust when he leaked 70 documents, 50 of which were classified. One was a classified "secret" related to how the FBI assesses confidential informants.
Albury's attorneys asked for probation, saying that his experience as the sole African-American field agent for most of his five years at the Minneapolis branch of the FBI led him to become internally conflicted over anti-terrorism policies he saw as racial profiling.
Albury's attorneys said in a statement to reporters he was "driven by a conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI," and that the racism he witnessed from agents and in the agency's policies drove him to disseminate classified information.
The Intercept, an online publication dedicated to what it calls "adversarial journalism," accidentally tipped off the FBI to the presence of a leaker when it submitted Freedom of Information Act requests referencing documents with names that were kept secret from the public. A subsequent audit of FBI systems found Albury had accessed documents that later appeared in The Intercept.
The federal government has been going through a crackdown under the supervision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump on employees who leak secret information to the press. Former NSA contractor Reality Winner received a sentence of five years and three months last August after also leaking documents to The Intercept, the longest sentence ever imposed for giving sensitive information to the press.
Albury worked for the FBI for 16 years, receiving an award from then-Director James Comey in 2015 for "exceptional efforts in the recruitment of two Confidential Human Sources."