Feds torpedo Navy sailor's 'Clinton defense'

Story highlights

  • The submaringer is to be sentenced Friday
  • His lawyers cited Clinton's handling of her emails in plea for leniency

(CNN)A Navy sailor facing prison time for taking photos of a classified area on a US nuclear attack submarine is asking a federal judge for leniency, citing the government's decision not to indict Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information.

Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier, a 29-year-old mechanic, admitted he used his personal cellphone on three occasions in 2009 to take six pictures of the submarine's classified propulsion system while working in the engine room, according to court documents.
In a court filing, Saucier's lawyer compares the half-dozen classified photos Saucier had in his possession to the 110 classified emails the FBI determined were on Hillary Clinton's personal server.
    "Mr. Saucier possessed six (6) photographs classified as 'confidential/restricted,' far less than Clinton's 110 emails," Derrick Hogan wrote to the US District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in a story first reported by Politico.
    Advocating for probation, Hogan said it would be "unjust and unfair" for Saucier -- who has pleaded guilty -- to do prison time "for a crime those more powerful than him will likely avoid."
    The USS Alexandria sub on which Saucier served.
    The federal government dismissed the comparison in a court filing Monday and instead asked the judge to sentence Saucier to more than five years behind bars at the sentencing hearing this Friday. The federal sentencing guideline ranges from 63 to 78 months.
    "The defendant is grasping at highly imaginative and speculative straws in trying to further draw a comparison to the matter of Sec. Hilary (sic) Clinton based upon virtually no understanding and knowledge of the facts involved, the information at issue, not to mention any issues of intent and knowledge," the prosecutors said in court papers.
    Saucier, who served on the USS Alexandria submarine from September 2007 until March 2012, had a secret security clearance and admitted knowing he was not authorized to take the photos, which depicted classified material.
    Still, Saucier's lawyers claim his reason for taking the photos was benign.
    "Mr. Saucier admitted that he knew when he took the pictures in 2009 that they were classified and that he did so out of the misguided desire to keep these pictures in order to one day show his family and his future children what he did while he was in the Navy," Hogan wrote in a court filing.
    Saucier's conduct is different from Clinton's email controversy, even his lawyers admit. The former secretary of state has said she did not knowingly send or receive emails that were classified, while Saucier has admitted knowing his conduct was illegal.
    FBI Director James Comey, however, said his investigation found that "any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position ... should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation" about classified matters. Comey also noted that a small number of the emails did bear markings indicating the presence of classified information, a fact that Saucier's defense attorneys pointed to.
    "I don't think that we're grasping at straws," said Greg Rinckey, one of the defense attorneys representing Saucier. "I think the cases are similar. Are they apples to apples? No, absolutely not. However it's now been shown that Secretary Clinton sent and received emails that were marked classified at the time contrary to her sworn testimony."