ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) — A former FBI counterterrorism agent pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of leaking classified documents to a news reporter, but says he did it to fight FBI racism against minorities.
Terry J. Albury, 39, admitted sharing confidential documents with an online news organization in a 50-minute plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright.
Albury was charged in March with unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and unauthorized retention of national defense information.
He is accused of providing a reporter with two documents, between February 2016 and Jan. 31, 2017.
The first document, dated Aug. 17, 2011, which was classified Secret, related to how the FBI evaluated confidential sources.
The second referred to “threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country.”
Albury’s attorneys JaneAnne Murray and Joshua Dratel said in a statement that “Terry Albury is a good and honorable man. His conduct in this case was an act of conscience. It was driven by his belief that there was no viable alternative to remedy the abuses he sought to address.”
Though Albury accepted the agreement with prosecutors, his attorneys said it does not tell his side of the story.
“It has been a critique of the FBI that it consists of and reflects a predominantly white male culture, which, as a result, has often treated minority communities with suspicion and disrespect. These criticisms are especially resonant in the terrorism context,” the attorneys said.
Albury was the only black field agent in the Minneapolis office, and racism is a problem within the FBI and in the minority communities it serves, according to Albury’s attorneys.
“The situation became even more acute for him when, having previously served a tour for the FBI in Iraq, he was assigned to the counterterrorism squad, and was required firsthand to implement FBI investigation directives that profiled and intimidated minority communities in Minnesota and other locations in which Terry served,” the attorneys said.
Court records do not disclose the news organization with which Albury shared the documents, but Minnesota Public Radio and The Associated Press reported that the date and subject matter of one document correspond with information in a Jan. 31, 2017 article by The Intercept.
The search warrant application states that that Albury began working for the FBI as an intern in 2000 and became a special agent in 2005, according to The Associated Press. He was most recently assigned to the Minneapolis field office where he worked as a liaison at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in counterterrorism and other matters, the AP said.
Albury signed a $100,000 unsecured bond and faces up to 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release. However, the government is recommending 46 to 57 months, and the defense is seeking 37 to 46 months.