Published 5:53 PM EDT Oct 18, 2018
WASHINGTON - An FBI agent was sentenced Thursday to four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to giving classified information to a reporter.
Former agent Terry Albury, who worked in the FBI's Minneapolis field office and helped on counterterrorism efforts, admitted to leaking national security information to The Intercept, which used the documents for a series called "The FBI's Secret Rules."
Prosecutors alleged Albury secretly released documents from the bureau and other government agencies for about 18 months by cutting and pasting information from documents so he would not leave a record of downloading or printing certain records. He also took photos of other documents and sent them to The Intercept, prosecutors alleged in federal court filings.
"We are conducting perhaps the most aggressive campaign against leaks in Department history," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement after Albury's sentencing. "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."
Federal court records show agents searched Albury's home in Shakopee, Minn. and found 58 sensitive and classified documents. The records were found on a thumb drive that was in an envelope addressed to a reporter.
Other national defense documents were located throughout his home on various electronic devices, court records show.
Attorneys for Albury declined to comment.
The constant barrage of leaks since President Donald Trump took office has been a has a pain for him and his administration. The president has called those leaking information "traitors" and says he is on a mission to find them.
There's been some arrests, too.
Earlier this week a Treasury Department official was charged with leaking sensitive bank data to a reporter related to a series of high-profile government defendants, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, campaign deputy Rick Gates and accused Russian agent Maria Butina.
Albury was charged with two counts of disclosing national defense information, each of which carried a maximum of 10 years in prison. His attorneys in court filings argued that the disclosures did not harm the U.S., any investigation or any person.
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Instead, they say, his goal "was to expose abuses and counter-productive strategies in the FBI’s counter-terrorism initiatives (including biases and poorly-researched or understood preconceptions that informed these initiatives)," his attorneys JaneAnne Murray and Joshua Dratel wrote in a court filing earlier this month, arguing for a lower sentence.
Albury worked in a state with a high frequency of terror investigations. A USA TODAY examination earlier this year found the state had the second highest number of ISIS-related cases from 2014 to 2017.
Albury's attorneys said in court filings that the leaks helped shed light to the FBI's profiling of the state's large Somoli population.
But prosecutors argued his actions allowed threats across the world to access the interworkings of the FBI and his sentence should be viewed as an example of what happens when those entrusted with information leak it.
"Albury transmitted classified information not just to one hostile foreign power, but to every hostile foreign power with the ability to pick up a newspaper or access the Internet," said U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger said. "This case should send a message to anyone considering violating the public’s trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information. We will remain steadfast and dogged in pursuit of these challenging but critical national security cases."