FBI Agent pleads guilty to leaking to media; Faces years behind bars

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A former Minnesota FBI counterterrorism agent who was caught in a Trump administration crackdown pleaded guilty Tuesday to leaking classified documents to a national media organization, saying he knew it was illegal but felt FBI investigations treated minority communities with “suspicion” and “disrespect.”

Terry J. Albury, 39, appeared in federal court in St. Paul on one count of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and one count of unauthorized retention of national defense information. Under his plea agreement, Albury faces a likely sentence of between 37 and 57 months but the decision will be up to U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright, who did not set a sentencing date.

The Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have made prosecuting government employees who leak sensitive information to the media a high priority. Sessions pledged to clamp down on leaks last year, saying the Justice Department had more than tripled the number of active leak investigations since President Barack Obama left office and that the FBI had created a new counterintelligence unit to focus on such cases.

The charging documents filed last month and a search warrant application didn’t name the news organization or any reporters. But the date on the classified document and its subject matter corresponded with a story posted by The Intercept on Jan. 31 of 2017 that deals with assessing informants and recruiting them by identifying their “motivations and vulnerabilities.” The story references a secret document dated Aug. 17, 2011.

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