Ex-CIA Officer Convicted of Leaking Iran Plan

Ex-CIA Officer Convicted of Leaking Iran Plan Ex-CIA Officer Convicted of Leaking Iran Plan

A former CIA officer involved in the US spy agency's covert operation to sabotage Iran's nuclear program over a decade ago has been convicted of espionage charges for giving classified information about his work to a New York Times reporter and author.

Jeffrey Sterling, 47, who was fired from the CIA in the early 2000s, was charged under the Espionage Act for revealing classified information about the CIA mission.

Prosecutors said Sterling, an African American, disclosed the CIA's cloak-and-dagger mission to journalist James Risen to get revenge on the CIA for "perceived" mistreatment. Sterling had earlier filed a racial discrimination complaint against the agency, the Washington Times reported.

The case revolved around the CIA mission in which a Russian-born scientist, who was reportedly a CIA asset nicknamed Merlin, provided Iran with intentionally flawed nuclear component schematics.

Risen disclosed the secretive operation in his 2006 book "State of War," terming it a mismanaged, potentially reckless mission.

Citing an anonymous source in his book, Risen elaborated on the operation, saying the CIA had fed deliberately flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran in hopes of gaining more information and impeding Tehran's nuclear activities.

Risen wrote that the operation was approved by former US president Bill Clinton in 2000 and later endorsed by his successor George W. Bush.

Former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice recently testified that the mission was one of the most secretive programs.

Condoleezza Rice told jurors at a hearing on the case on January 15 that she was stunned to learn that a classified mission to thwart Iran's nuclear program had been disclosed to a reporter.

In her testimony, Rice said the program was one of the most closely held operations during her tenure as national security adviser in the first term of the Bush administration.

Rice said she had asked the New York Times not to publish Risen's story and to get rid of any evidence it had obtained.