Support FBI whistleblower Terry Albury, who is set to be sentenced next week



Terry Albury

FBI whistleblower Terry Albury, the second person prosecuted by the Trump administration for leaking information to the press, will be be sentenced next week in federal court. The documents he is assumed to have shared detail the FBI’s recruitment tactics and how the agency monitors journalists. For his act of courage, he could face years in prison.

Albury pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Espionage Act in March—each punishable by up to ten years in prison. Passed in 1917, the archaic law was originally intended for use against foreign spies, but since its inception, it has been weaponized against sources of journalists and whistleblowers. (Read more about the history of the Espionage Act here.)

Albury is no spy. 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.” Albury has stated he witnessed discrimination both as by working as the only black field agent in the agency’s Minneapolis office, and by observing profiling of minority communities in Minnesota.

Although the complaint against Albury did not name a specific news organization, he is assumed to be the source behind The Intercept’s important “FBI Files” investigative series that  detailed controversial FBI tactics for investigating minorities and for monitoring journalists through National Security Letters (NSLs).

By using NSLs, the FBI can obtain journalists’ phone records with no court oversight whatsoever and can circumvent the Justice Department’s normally strict guidelines for spying on journalists. The fact that we know this is (presumably) thanks to Albury.

The charges against Albury came as the Justice Department ramped up its leak investigations by 800% since the previous administration. Albury’s case is the latest in a travesty of leak prosecutions under the Espionage Act, a practice normalized by the Obama administration and expanded on by Trump.

Albury will be sentenced on October 18 in St. Paul, Minnesota. His attorneys argue that guidelines suggest a sentence of approximately three years, but that given his moral character, role as a father of two young children, and the fact that he no longer works for the FBI, a sentence of probation would be most appropriate.

In the sentencing motion, Albury’s defense draw attention to his workplace environment, and how the racism he experienced within the FBI and the racial profiling witnessed the agency propagate in Minnesota sickened and isolated him.

“In 2016, Terry Albury, a highly-regarded and decorated FBI agent in the Minneapolis office (and who had previously served the FBI in Iraq), and the only black field agent in his region at that time, disclosed classified materials to a reporter relating to FBI surveillance, profiling, and informant-recruitment practices in national security cases,” the motion reads. “He did so as an act of conscience, of patriotism and in the public interest, and for no personal gain whatsoever.”

Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, noted in April that former FBI officials like James Comey and and Andrew McCabe have received extensive media coverage and public and financial support—and don’t face prosecution. But Albury, who apparently released information with huge implications for racial inequity and press freedom, has received very little such support.

Albury's lawyers have launched a GoFundMe page to help with his legal expenses, which you can contribute to here.

The justice system is deeply broken when a courageous whistleblower like Albury should face any prison time at all for speaking out about racial profiling and discrimination within his workplace and making details of monitoring of the press public.

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