An FBI agent in Minnesota has been charged over leaking secret documents to The Intercept, reportedly related to threats made by individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country and the FBI’s use of informants.
A two-page document filed by prosecutors for the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, cited by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, charges Terry James Albury with two counts of unlawfully disclosing and retaining national defense information.
The government charged Albury with unlawfully possessing a 2011 document about assessing the FBI’s “confidential human sources” and another document “relating to threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country.” He is said to have “knowingly and willfully” shared those materials with a journalist.
The second count charges Albury with unlawfully possessing “a document relating to the use of an online platform for recruitment by a specific terrorist group.”
Neither the group, the Middle Eastern country, nor the publication are identified in the government materials. However, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) identified the materials as part of the “FBI’s secret rules” series published by The Intercept in January 2017.
Albury had electronically accessed over two-thirds of the 27 documents published by The Intercept, according to a previously sealed FBI request for a search warrant.
Albury’s attorneys said their client “accepts full responsibility for the conduct set forth” in the document. However, as the “only African-American FBI field agent in Minnesota,” his actions were “driven by a conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI,” attorneys JaneAnne Murray and Joshua Dratel said in a statement on Wednesday.
Albury was hired by the FBI in 2001 and became an agent in 2005, according to MPR. He was assigned to counter-terrorism and other investigations at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).
On three occasions last summer, security cameras at the FBI’s MSP office captured Albury cutting and pasting screenshots of documents and photographing printouts with a digital camera, according to the search warrant application cited by the Star-Tribune.
The Intercept reported on Albury’s arrest on Wednesday, but neither confirmed nor denied that he was their source for the documents.
“We do not discuss anonymous sources,” said the outlet’s editor-in-chief Betsy Reed, who added that “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.”
While The Intercept has also declined to confirm that NSA contractor Reality Winner provided them with classified documents, the outlet has contributed to her legal defense fund. Winner was arrested in June 2017, after the FBI said it was able to track her down due to the print-out markings visible on the published documents.
The Intercept was launched in early 2014 as the platform for publishing documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
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