PFDF Statement on the Prosecution of Former FBI Agent Terry James Albury Under the Espionage Act
(New York, NY, March 29, 2018) A former Minneapolis FBI agent has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly leaking secret documents to a national news reporter, according to federal criminal charges filed in Minnesota this week.
As reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, former agent Terry James Albury was motivated “by a conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI,” his attorney said.
The charging of Albury under the Espionage Act is an abuse of government power.
First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund condemns prosecutions under the 1917 Espionage Act that criminalize the release of information of government wrongdoing. The misuse of the Espionage Act chills truth tellers, impedes investigative reporting, and compromises the democratic process. This is why the Press Freedom Defense Fund supports Reality Winner, the NSA contractor who is accused of distributing a NSA report on Russian hacking to the media.
These Espionage Act prosecutions are examples of the government seeking to avoid transparency and accountability. These public servants come to news outlets when they believe that certain information needs to be public, often because internal review and accountability processes have fallen apart within government institutions. Instead of addressing the underlying problems, the government prosecutes an alleged journalistic source under the Espionage Act. It's an outrage.
The PFDF is stepping up efforts to stand against this blatant misuse of the blunt tool of the Espionage Act. We are actively seeking out opportunities with other journalism and First Amendment organizations to raise awareness of the injustices arising from the misuse of the Espionage Act.
ABOUT THE PRESS FREEDOM DEFENSE FUND
First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund supports journalists, filmmakers, whistleblowers and news organizations pursuing legal fights where a substantial public interest, freedom of the press, or related human and civil rights are at stake. Grants under this program are used to fund challenges to policies or actions that restrict press freedom and obstruct access to essential information in the United States and around the world.
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Director, Press Freedom Defense Fund