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Ex-FBI agent gets 11 years for security leaks, child porn

AFP | Last Updated: Friday, November 15, 2013 - 13:55

Washington: A former FBI agent has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for disclosing confidential national security information about a foiled bomb plot to a news agency`s reporter.

Former FBI explosives specialist Donald Sachtleben, who was also sentenced to eight years in prison in an unrelated child pornography case, pleaded guilty in September in both cases.

Sachtleben, 55, got a combined total of 140 months (more than 11 years) in prison -- 97 months in the child pornography case and a consecutive 43 months in the national security case.

President Barack Obama`s administration came under sharp criticism from lawmakers and media rights groups over its probe of the leak, after investigators confiscated phone records of reporters at the news agency.

But federal prosecutors said the case underlined the government`s determination to hold leakers accountable for spilling secrets.

Sachtleben was charged after investigators traced to his laptop about 30 sexually explicit images and video files of youths generally below the age of 12.

According to prosecutors, Sachtleben "avidly traded in child pornography," using his e-mail accounts to distribute the files to at least 12 other people around the world between September 2011 and his arrest on May 11, 2012.

The national security 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 revealed the information just nine days before his arrest in Carmel, Indiana.
"Defendant Donald John Sachtleben betrayed this nation and the most vulnerable members of our society," an October court filing said.

Sachtleben had worked for the FBI from 1983 until 2008 as a bomb technician and, after his retirement, was hired as a security contractor.

In investigating the leak, authorities obtained two months of phone records of reporters and editors at the news agency at several offices, covering 20 separate phone lines, defence 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 have blasted what they called heavy-handed tactics by investigators and warned the administration`s tough line could have a chilling effect on journalistic inquiry.

First Published: Friday, November 15, 2013 - 13:55
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