A former FBI agent was recently sentenced for jeopardizing national security by handing over top-secret, confidential documents to the press. 39-year-old Terry James Albury, willfully admitted to knowingly putting the country at risk with his actions, betraying the public’s trust and committing theft against the government.
• Court documents show that Albury was an FBI Special Agent working out of Minneapolis when the events occurred. He was not only cleared to access top-secret files, but also had special Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance, both of which allowed him to directly access classified FBI information on a daily basis.
• According to the StarTribune, Albury stole a total of over 70 documents, at least one of which contained an outline of how the FBI assesses confidential informants. He then turned the documents over to news reporters, allegedly expecting to be protected.
• The former FBI agent claims his theft, and subsequent leak, came from good intentions. At his sentencing, Albury told the jury “I sincerely wanted to make a difference and never meant to put anyone in danger.” It wasn’t immediately clear just what kind of difference he hoped to make.
• Albury’s defense attorneys also argued that his transgression came from a place of good intention – but good intentions do not always make good decisions, especially when it comes to national security. They also told the judge that Albury, who is African-American, was “morally conflicted by the FBI’s counterterrorism policies” and believed they amounted to racial profiling.
• Attorney Jeff Sessions, who has been investigating Albury’s case in tandem with the FBI, indicated the seriousness of the issue in a press release. “Crimes like the one committed by the defendant in this case will not be tolerated— they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and punished,” he said. “Today’s sentence should be a warning to every would-be leaker in the federal government that if they disclose classified information, they will pay a high price.”
• FBI Director, Christopher Wray, also gave his opinion of the would-be whistleblower. “Every FBI agent has a solemn obligation to protect classified information from unauthorized disclosure,” he explained, “to safeguard our national security. Terry Albury betrayed …the trust bestowed on him by the American people.”
• Albury’s defense team lobbied for probation only due to his good intentions, suggesting leniency because he “meant well.” U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright, who presided over the case, handed down a four-year sentence instead.