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Sessions catches another alleged intelligence leaker - this one's a former FBI agent

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had said in August 2017 that the Department of Justice was drastically increasing its investigations into intelligence leaks. The DOJ charged a former FBI agent with illegally spilling national intelligence secrets to The Intercept. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Department of Justice pressed charges against a former FBI agent in Minneapolis for leaking information to The Intercept.

Here's what he's accused of

Federal criminal charges filed in Minnesota charge that Terry James Albury illegally disclosed national defense information.

Albury is accused of sharing a document “relating to threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country” to a national media outlet, likely The Intercept.

A second charge said that he refused to produce a document “relating to the use of an online platform for recruitment by a specific terrorist group."

What does the agent say about the charges?

Lawyers for Albury said in a statement that he would take responsibility for his actions, but offered a hint of his motivation for leaking the documents.

“Terry Albury served the U.S. with distinction both here at home and abroad in Iraq,” the statement read. “He accepts full responsibility for the conduct set forth in the Information."

"We would like to add that as the only African-American FBI field agent in Minnesota, Mr. Albury’s actions were driven by a conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI," the statement said.

What does The Intercept say about the charges?

Betsy Reed, the editor-in-chief of The Intercept, published a statement about the charges on its website.

“We do not discuss anonymous sources," she wrote. "The use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers seeking to shed light on matters of vital public concern is an outrage, and all journalists have the right under the First Amendment to report these stories.”

How did they catch the alleged leaker?

The Star Tribune explained the methods the FBI used to catch Albury.

According to previously sealed search warrant applications in the case executed last August, the FBI eventually linked references to secret documents in federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by the Intercept in March 2016 to Albury’s activity on the FBI’s information systems.

...The FBI also identified a gray highlight across a row of text of the August 2011 document that is not present in the original document. Investigators also confirmed that Albury conducted “cut and paste” activity on that document and printed the copy a month before the Intercept’s FOIA requests. He also allegedly accessed about a half dozen other secret documents referenced in the requests, at least one of which was later published online.

The charges also indicated that the former agent allegedly photographed intelligence documents with a digital camera.

Albury is the second alleged leaker charged for spilling state secrets to The Intercept. In June 2017, NSA contractor Reality Winner was arrested for similar leaks to the same news outlet. The Intercept was ridiculed on social media at the time for apparently not protecting their sources enough.

'Rogue anonymous sources' 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had said in August 2017 that the Department of Justice was drastically increasing its  investigations into intelligence leaks.

“We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer,” Sessions said at the time.

One last thing…
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