WASHINGTON — A former FBI agent has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information to the Associated Press about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen last year, the Justice Department announced Monday. Federal investigators said they identified him after obtaining phone logs of AP reporters.
The retired agent, a former bomb technician named Donald Sachtleben, has agreed to serve 43 months in prison, the Justice Department said. The case brings to eight the number of leak-related prosecutions brought under President Barack Obama's administration; under all previous presidents, there were three such cases.
"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," said Ronald Machen Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
In a twist, Sachtleben, 55, of Carmel, Ind., was the subject of a separate FBI investigation for distributing child pornography, and has separately agreed to plead guilty in that matter and serve 97 months.
A court filing claims Sachtleben disclosed to an unnamed reporter on May 2, 2012, that the CIA had foiled a bomb plot in Yemen. The AP broke the news that a plot had been foiled in Yemen on May 7.
A year later, it became known that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed phone companies for calling records for 20 phone lines of AP offices and reporters, without providing advance notice to the organization so it could negotiate over the scope of the effort or ask a judge to quash the subpoena.
The move set off an uproar among journalists and members of Congress when it was disclosed. The Justice Department said the calling records proved crucial to identifying Sachtleben.