One Year Ago — Breaking News : Former CIA Jeffrey Sterling Released to a Halfway House

“We welcome the forthcoming release of Jeffrey Sterling into a halfway house, but hope that he can be reunited with his family soon. His conviction was a breach of First Amendment protections. Simply being in contact with a journalist does not amount to espionage and should not incur imprisonment.”

Margaux Ewen — RSF North America Director  (Reporters Without Borders)

“Just like the CIA primary mission is to protect the Agency, the New York Time primary mission is to protect the Time. And so when this hit the fan — so to speak — Jeffrey was on his own.”

Former CIA John Kiriakou

“Sterling’s case drew nationwide attention because the Obama-era Department of Justice unsuccessfully tried to force the reporter, James Risen, to divulge the identity of his sources for ‘State of War’, a book in which he revealed the CIA had botched a covert operation against Iran’s nuclear program. Risen reported that instead of undermining the Iranians, the CIA had provided them with useful information on how to build a nuclear bomb.”

The Intercept — Peter Maass (January 2018)

January 16 2018 — On Christmas eve, I told you that former CIA Jeffrey Sterling could be released from jail early this year. I am happy to report that this prediction came true. Today, Jeffrey Sterling was released from prison to a halfway house, ahead of the original end date of his 3.5 year prison sentence on June 14, 2018.  Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

RELATED POST: Jeffrey Sterling — Mark Zaid Responds to Allegations He betrayed His Client

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RELATED POST: Former CIA John Kiriakou: “Doing Time Like A Spy”

RELATED POST: US: Annual number of suspected criminal leaks undiminished by Obama’s policy

RELATED POST: US Whistleblowers — Test your ‘Spy’ knowledge with our quiz!

UPDATE (January 16 2019) — Main Stream Media have apparently forgotten former CIA Jeffrey Sterling and Operation MERLIN.

Still, Gareth Porter has penned a very thoughtful piece on this important affair: How ‘Operation Merlin’ Poisoned U.S. Intelligence on Iran.

Gareth Porter — an independent journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism — came to the following conclusion.

“Operation Merlin is the perfect example of powerful bureaucratic interests running amok and creating the intelligence necessary to justify their operations.

The net result is that Jeffrey Sterling was unjustly imprisoned and that the United States has gone down a path of Iran policy that poses serious – and unnecessary – threats to American security.”

I certainly agree with this analysis. I also believe that many aspects of this affair — beside Operation MERLIN itself — should be investigated by serious journalists.

I will suggest four areas of investigations:

1 — How did Jeffrey Sterling become the centre of the investigation?

2 — Is it possible that he was betrayed by his own lawyer?

3 — Or could it be that the CIA was monitoring US congress emails regarding whistleblowers?

4 — Considering what we now know about the true reason of the CIA debacle in China, is it possible that the CIA went after Sterling to hide the truth about their crappy covert communication system that was previously used in Iran?

I would think that MSM journalists would research these stories… But obviously, they do not. Why on earth not?


Jeffrey Alexander Sterling is an American lawyer and former CIA employee who was arrested, charged, and convicted of violating the Espionage Act for revealing details about Operation Merlin to journalist James Risen.

Dubious Case — The reporter, James Risen, refused to identify his sources. During the trial, Special Agent Ashley Hunt admitted  that there was absolutely no email records, no phone call records and that no one had witnessed the two being together exchanging classified information.

In May 2015, Sterling was sentenced to 3½ years in prison and thus set for release in June 2018.

On June 22 2017, a three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld all but one of Sterling’s convictions.

Moreover, the Court determined that because his 42-month sentence could have applied to any single count of which he was found guilty, there was no need to take further action.

A few words from Holly Sterling

“I am excited my beloved husband Jeffrey is transitioning to a halfway house, while being anxious that he does not remain there until June,” said Holly Sterling, Jeffrey’s wife.

“We maintain hope that we can begin the arduous journey of rebuilding our life that the government vehemently destroyed. Jeffrey’s legacy is now branded with the scarlet letter of being a supposed traitor to his country — the country he still loves.”


Jeffrey Alexander Sterling is an American lawyer and former CIA employee who was arrested, charged, and convicted of violating the Espionage Act for revealing details about Operation Merlin to journalist James Risen. Sterling denies the charges.

The case against him is circumstantial. (There is evidence that Sterling and Risen have called each other. Risen has of course dozens of contacts at the CIA.)

Sterling joined the CIA on May 14, 1993. In 1995, he became operations officer in the Iran task force of the CIA’s Near East and South Asia division.

On December 22, 2010, U.S. attorney Neil H. MacBride filed an indictment against Jeffrey Alexander Sterling on the Unlawful Retention and Unauthorized Disclosure of National Defense Information, Mail Fraud, Unauthorized Conveyance of Government Property, and Obstruction of Justice. Sterling was arrested on January 6, 2011.

Sterling was convicted of espionage charges on January 26, 2015

On 11 May 2015, Sterling was sentenced to 3½ years in prison and thus set for release in 2018.

On August 11 2016, Jeffrey Sterling filed a health complaint against Colorado federal correctional institution.

December 2016 — Jeffrey’s appellate hearing took place in early December 2016. “His attorneys did a phenomenal job and there were some pointed questions asked by at least one judge.”

June 22, 2017 — The appellate court upheld all but one of Jeffrey’s convictions.

UPDATE (January 23 2018) — The Sterling’s case drew nationwide attention but his release from prison was largely ignored by the US media.

The Intercept has just published a short piece:

“Risen had interviewed Sterling in 2002 for an article about his discrimination lawsuit — but Sterling has denied talking to Risen about the Iranian program.

In 2011, when Sterling was arrested, the government’s indictment accused him of leaking about Iran out of ‘anger and resentment.’

The key evidence that persuaded a jury to convict Sterling on nine felony counts consisted of phone records and emails that showed Sterling and Risen had communicated with each other.

However, those records did not disclose anything about the content of their conversations. All the government knew, and all the jury knew, is that they had communicated.

At Sterling’s sentencing in 2015, Judge Leonie Brinkema acknowledged that “in a perfect world, you’d only have direct evidence, but many times that’s not the case in a criminal case.”

She described the phone and email records as “very powerful circumstantial evidence.”

After the guilty verdict, Sterling requested that he serve his sentence at a prison near St. Louis, where he lived with his wife. The government sent him to a prison in Colorado.

Earlier this week, he was released from that prison and has been assigned to a halfway house in St. Louis.”

Former CIA John Kiriakou Explains The Jeffrey Sterling Case


US – RSF hails upcoming release of Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling to halfway house

Prison Officials Respond to CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling’s Health Complaint — Intel Today

I Was a CIA Whistleblower. Now I’m a Black Inmate. Here’s How I See American Racism. The Intercept Sept. 13 2016

Appeals Court Scrutinizes Ex-CIA Officer’s Leak Conviction — ABC News

Appeals court affirms most convictions of ex-CIA officer convicted in leak case — WaPo

In Opinion Mostly Rejecting Jeffrey Sterling Appeal, Fourth Circuit Criminalizes Unclassified Tips — emptywheel

Jeffrey Sterling, Convicted of Leaking About Botched CIA Program, Has Been Released From Prison — The Intercept


Breaking News — Former CIA Jeffrey Sterling Released to a Halfway House

Breaking News — Former CIA Jeffrey Sterling Released to a Halfway House [UPDATE]

One Year Ago –Breaking News : Former CIA Jeffrey Sterling Released to a Halfway House

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