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Ex-FBI Agent Charged Under Espionage Act Motivated by ‘Larger Public Good’

© AFP 2023 / YURI GRIPASThe FBI headquarters building in Washington, DC.
The FBI headquarters building in Washington, DC. - Sputnik International
For the second time in less than a year, a US government source widely believed to have supplied sensitive information to The Intercept has been arrested.

In June 2017, National Security Agency contractor Reality Leigh Winner was arrested for leaking a top-secret NSA document to the investigative media outlet. This week, a former FBI agent in Minnesota was also detained for sharing documents with The Intercept that the agent thought would help expose "systemic bias" at the FBI.

Terry James Albury is likely to plead guilty to two counts filed against him on Thursday by the US Justice Department's National Security Division, the Star Tribune, a Minneapolis-based newspaper, reports.

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"Terry Albury served the US with distinction both here at home and abroad in Iraq," attorneys for the accused said in a statement.

"He accepts full responsibility for the conduct set forth in the Information. He would like to add that as the only African-American FBI field agent in Minnesota, Mr. Albury's actions were driven by a conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI," the statement reads.

The Intercept published a report on January 31, 2017, titled "FBI's Secret Rules." The two-page felony information document detailing Albury's violations under the Espionage Act notes that Albury shared information with a press representative between February 2016 and January 31, 2017, leading to the widely reported conclusion that Albury was the Intercept's source.

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The charges don't mention The Intercept by name. The news outlet's editor in chief, Betsy Reed, said Wednesday, "We understand that there is an Espionage Act prosecution underway against an alleged FBI whistleblower in Minnesota, who is accused of leaking materials relating to the FBI's use of confidential human sources."

"News reports have suggested that the prosecution may be linked to stories published by The Intercept. We do not discuss anonymous sources. 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," she continued.


​Coleen Rowley, a former FBI special agent and whistleblower who in 2002 was named Time Magazine's person of the year along with two other whistleblowers, explained to Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Friday that Albury is, in fact, a whistleblower. "He seems to have been motivated to get some information out to fix these problems" with how the FBI deals with informants and targets black empowerment movements, Rowley said.

"That's what a whistleblower is. A whistleblower is motivated not by themselves, but for a larger public good," Rowley told Loud & Clear hosts John Kiriakou and Walter Smolarek.

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