UPDATED JAN 10, 2011
Ex-CIA officer waives St. Louis hearing on leak case
ST. LOUIS • Jeffrey A. Sterling, the former CIA officer who has been charged with leaking government secrets to a national newspaper reporter, today waived his right to a detention hearing in federal court here.
Instead, the question of whether the O'Fallon, Mo. man is a flight risk or "a danger to the community," as prosecutors assert, will be decided in Virginia's federal court, where the indictment originated. Sterling is being held until that hearing, which will be scheduled once the government determines it is safe for him to travel, given a recent knee replacement surgery.
Sterling, 43, was charged by a federal grand jury on Dec. 22 with 10 counts related to obstructing justice and disclosing national security information. He was arrested Thursday morning in St. Louis at Wellpoint Inc., where he works as a senior investigator earning $90,000 a year, according to court filings. Sterling was arraigned later that day here.
The alleged leak was reportedly regarding a botched CIA effort aimed at Iran's nuclear program, which the New York Times' James Risen detailed in his 2006 book, "State of War." Risen has not responded to a request for comment.
Sterling's attorney, Edward McMahon, has maintained his client's innocence. He declined comment today when appearing in court briefly with Sterling to waive the hearing.
Sterling, who grew up in Cape Girardeau, worked for the CIA from 1992-2000. From November 1998 to May 2000, he served on the agency's Iranian desk, handling Iranian spies who had defected to the United States.
Sterling was fired by the CIA in October 2001, two months after he filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York City claiming the CIA discriminated against him because he is African-American, according to a People Magazine profile. Federal prosecutors allege Sterling retaliated by leaking the secret government information.
Department of Justice Press Release
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