Trial delayed for former CIA officer accused of leaking secrets

Story highlights

  • Jeffrey Sterling is facing charges including unauthorized disclosure of defense information
  • He worked for the CIA from 1993 until 2002
  • Jury selection has been postponed because of issues with witnesses
The trial for a former CIA officer charged with leaking classified defense information has been delayed just as jury selection was set to begin on Monday.
Jeffrey Sterling was charged in January with 10 felony counts, including unauthorized disclosure of national defense information, mail fraud and obstruction of justice. Sterling has pleaded not guilty.
Opening arguments were expected to begin this week in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, after jury selection, but the trial was postponed on Monday after prosecutors said they intended to appeal the judge's decision to strike two witnesses, according to Peter Carr, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia. No date has been set for the trial pending a ruling from the appeals court, which could take several months once an appeal is filed.
Sterling worked for the CIA from 1993 to 2002, when he was fired, the Justice Department said. One of his assignments was working on a top-secret operational program related to the weapons capabilities of certain countries. The indictment alleges Sterling stole classified information and orally disclosed the contents to a reporter who was writing a book. The indictment does not name the reporter, but the case appears to match up with newspaper accounts about New York Times reporter James Risen, who was subpoenaed to testify about the sources for his book "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration."
If Sterling is convicted when the trial begins, he would face up to 10 years in prison on each of the six charges of unauthorized disclosure and retention of national defense information. Penalties on the remaining counts would include a maximum 20 years in prison and fine of $250,000.