A former CIA officer who leaked classified documents to a New York Times reporter was convicted of espionage today in federal court and could potentially face decades in jail.
Jeffrey Sterling, who was fired from the CIA in 2002, had a contentious relationship with the agency, at one point unsuccessfully suing for racial discrimination. Not long after, prosecutors said, he began leaking information to Times reporter James Risen.
He was eventually indicted in 2011 after Risen published information about a failed CIA plan to sabotage Iran's nuclear program by giving the country "intentionally flawed nuclear component schematics," in a 2006 novel, State of War.
The court was prepared to compel Risen to testify against Sterling, but prosecutors ultimately declined to call him to the stand, relying instead on circumstantial evidence.
The trial was part Washington spectacle, part cloak and dagger. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified, as did C.I.A. operatives who gave only their first names and last initials, with their faces shielded behind seven-foot-high partitions. A scientist was referred to only by his code name, Merlin. His wife was Mrs. Merlin.
He'll be sentenced in April.