|Former FBI agent who kept teenage porn to admit tipping off AP on US military operations
A former FBI explosives expert will plead guilty to revealing secret information for an Associated Press story about a US intelligence operation in Yemen in 2012.
Donald Sachtleben said in court papers Monday that he provided details of the operation to a reporter. Four months ago, Sachtleben also acknowledged he distributed and possessed pornographic images of underage girls.
The plea agreement calls for 140 months in prison for both crimes.
A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said the pornography investigation helped identify Sachtleben as a suspect in the leaks case. The official would not be named because of the Justice Department policy against identifying innocent parties.
The department seized AP phone records in its search for the information's source.
AP spokesman Paul Colford said, “The AP never comments on its sources.''
"After unprecedented investigative efforts by prosecutors and FBI agents and analysts, today Donald Sachtleben has been charged with this egregious betrayal of our national security,'' said federal prosecutor Ronald Machen.
"This prosecution demonstrates our deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation's secrets and to prevent future, potentially devastating leaks by those who would wantonly ignore their obligations to safeguard classified information,'' he said.
The leak disclosed a CIA operation that disrupted a plot in 2012 by Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.
Sachtleben had worked for the FBI from 1983 until 2008. After his retirement, was hired as a security contractor.
The plea agreements agreed by Sachtleben call for him to be sentenced to more than 11 years in prison, including 43 months for the leak charges and 97 months for child pornography offenses.
In investigating the leak, authorities obtained two months of phone records of reporters and editors at AP at several offices, covering 20 separate phone lines, defense lawyers said.
No reporter was charged in the Sachtleben case or in another investigation of a leak about North Korea.
But rights groups and news outlets blasted what they called heavy-handed tactics by investigators and warned the administration's tough line could have a chilling effect on journalistic inquiry.—AP