FBI whistleblower Terry Albury sentenced to four years in prison for sharing information with journalists

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Terry Albury

FBI whistleblower Terry Albury has been sentenced to four years in prison in federal court in St. Paul. Albury, the second person prosecuted by the Trump administration for leaking information to the press, is assumed to have shared documents of huge public interest value.

Albury pleaded guilty in April to two counts of violating the archaic Espionage Act. Although the charges did not name the news outlet in question, Albury is believed to have leaked documents to The Intercept detailing the FBI’s discriminatory investigatory tactics against minorities and monitoring of journalists through National Security Letters.

His attorneys have described him as being driven to action by a “conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI.”

At Albury’s sentencing, his legal defense argued for a lighter sentence on the grounds that other government officials had received less severe penalties for leaks, such as CIA Director David Petraeus, who received only probation time after pleading guilty to top secret information.

A federal judge ultimately sentenced him to 48 months, or four years, in prison, for his act of courage in bringing information in the public interest to a news organization.

Freedom of the Press Foundation Senior Reporter Peter Sterne issued the following statement:

Albury’s 48-month prison sentence is one of the longest sentences ever received in federal court for leaking information to the press. It’s part of a disturbing trend, which began during the Obama administration and has accelerated under the Trump administration, of the criminalization of the reporting process.

While sentencing Albury today, the judge reportedly said that Albury had “put our country at risk” by providing journalists with internal FBI documents. The government failed to provide evidence to support this claim, and nothing could be further from the truth. Albury’s disclosures presumably informed the American people about the controversial tactics that FBI agents are trained to use to recruit informants and to surveil journalists.

These tactics put all Americans’ First Amendment rights at risk. He is owed a debt of gratitude, not a prison sentence.