Minnesota Lawyer Blogs
FBI agent faces criminal charges in Minnesota, attorneys say
At the end of March, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) â€“ the agency that oversees U.S. Attorneys and the FBI, as well as other law enforcement divisions â€“ filed charges against a Minneapolis FBI agent. The charges originated from the DOJ’s National Security Division and allege that the agent leaked “secret documents” to a reporter for an unnamed national publication.
The agent, who was the only African American field agent in Minnesota, said he was attempting to expose “systemic biases” within the FBI. The charges are the first in Minnesota and come in the wake of a crackdown on government leaks that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is spearheading at behest of the White House.
Based on dates in the charging document, a felony information, news reports speculate that the publication was likely The Intercept, which published a series of articles in an exposÃ© of the FBI shortly after last year’s presidential inauguration.
The documents that were leaked from the Minneapolis FBI office discuss the Bureau’s methodologies for assessing and recruiting informants, or “confidential human sources” (CHS) in Bureau parlance.
At the time of the charges, the agent had been working in an office at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on issues involving counter-terrorism. Search warrant applications claimed that cameras in the office had captured the agent photographing proprietary and confidential FBI material.
The materials that the agent accessed were reflective of those published by The Intercept in its exposÃ©, according to the charging documents.
There is definitely something unsettling to the idea that someone who attempts to point out wrongdoing in a government agency should be charged under the Espionage Act. On the other hand, the potential for truly sensitive information leaking out to the media also creates a quandary.
Ultimately, it will be for the Judicial Branch to decide.