Washington: A former FBI agent is pleading guilty to charges he leaked secrets to journalists about a failed terror plot in a case marked by the controversial seizure of reporters` phone records, US prosecutors has said.
The ex-agent, Donald Sachtleben, "willfully disclosed ... national defence information to a person not authorized to receive it, namely a reporter with a national news organization," the Justice Department said in a statement on Monday.
Sachtleben, 55, also planned to plead guilty to separate charges he possessed and distributed child pornography, it said.
President Barack Obama`s administration came under sharp criticism from lawmakers and media rights groups over its investigation of the leak, after confiscating phone records of reporters at the Associated Press.
"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 was related to a CIA operation that disrupted a plot in 2012 from 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 as a bomb technician and after his retirement, was hired as a security contractor.
The plea agreements agreed by Sachtleben call for him to be sentenced to 43 months for the leak charges and 97 months for child pornography offenses.