A former FBI agent has been sentenced to spend four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to giving classified information to a reporter.
According to USA Today, Terry James Albury, who worked in the FBI Minneapolis field office and was involved in counterterrorism efforts of the bureau, admitted that he leaked national security information to the Intercept, which used the classified documents for the series "The FBI's Secret Rules."
Prosecutors said that Albury secretly released the documents from the FBI and other government agencies for a period of about 18 months, cutting and pasting information from documents to avoid leaving records that could show he downloaded or printed certain records.
He also took photos of some documents and then sent these to the Intercept, according to federal court filings.
After the sentencing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that crimes such as the one Albury committed will not be tolerated, warning that those who commit them will be prosecuted and punished accordingly.
Federal court records show that agents who searched Albury's home in Shakopee, Minn. found sensitive and classified documents on a thumb drive placed in an envelope addressed to a reporter. They also found other national defense documents on various electronic devices in Albury's home.
U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright told Albury that he abused his security clearance and position as an FBI agent, and that he knowingly committed the crime despite knowing it is illegal.
"You did so knowingly. You did so willingly. You knew that what you did was a criminal act, and you knew that you were putting the nation's security at risk," the judge told Albury, according to The Associated Press.
The judge said that the prison sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime that the 39-year-old committed, and this should deter others from doing something similar.
Albury's defense lawyers asked the court for probation saying he acted patriotically and was conflicted by the bureau's counterterrorism policies that he saw as racial profiling.
Albury told the court that he had a sincere desire to serve and protect when he joined the FBI, but over time, he believed that some of the counterterrorism policies of the bureau were detrimental to national security. Albury, who is black, also said that he felt isolated as a minority in the FBI.
"I now recognize there were other avenues, and wish I would've trusted the FBI's internal processes for addressing my concerns," Albury said.