WASHINGTON – A former CIA officer accused of disclosing confidential information to an American journalist, pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court, the Department of Justice announced.
Jeffrey Sterling, 43, was arrested in St. Louis last week on a 10-count indictment that included handing over classified intelligence on another country’s covert weapons program and revealing national defense information.
He was transferred to Virginia to face trial. A hearing to determine whether he will remain in custody pending trial is scheduled for January 19.
Sterling, who worked for the CIA from 1993 to 2002, allegedly gave the journalist confidential information about the nuclear weapons capabilities of “Country A” and “a person linked to this operation.”
Sterling allegedly gave the information in 2003, for an article that wasn’t published, and in 2006 to the same reporter, this time for a book.
Authorities did not name the country, the “national newspaper” nor the journalist, but the dates and details point to James Risen, a reporter for the New York Times and author of the book “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”
The secret operation described in the book took place in Iran.
Risen was subpoenaed last year to appear before a grand jury to reveal his sources for a chapter that focused on the CIA’s efforts to disrupt alleged Iranian nuclear weapons research. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author refused to comply.
The Justice Department said Sterling’s alleged actions may have been in retaliation for the CIA refusing to settle a claim of racial discrimination that he had brought against the agency. Sterling is black.
Most of the charges carry maximum sentences of up to 10 years in prison.