U.S. prosecutors in the case of a former CIA officer accused of leaking top-secret information to a reporter want to introduce evidence that the public will not see and to use screens to shield the identities of some witnesses.
In a court filing Tuesday, prosecutors in the case of ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling said the unusual measures are needed to safeguard national security secrets and to assure the safety of witnesses who worked under cover for the United States. Sterling is accused of leaking information to James Risen of The New York Times for his 2006 book “State of War.”
Josh Gerstein, writing on Politico, reported on the motion submitted to U.S. Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.
Sterling faces 10 felony counts relating to allegations that he told Risen about a CIA effort to transmit flawed nuclear weapon designs to Iran. In his 2006 book, Risen wrote that the Russian defector to the United States whom the CIA used to convey the information to the Iranians actually pointed out the flaws to them. Prosecutors have said that parts of Risen’s account are false.
Sterling’s lead defense attorney, Ed MacMahon, objected to the prosecution requests to prevent the public from seeing some witnesses and evidence at the trial, which is scheduled to begin Oct. 17. “Sterling’s entitled to a public trial and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure he actually gets a public trial and not one controlled by the CIA,” MacMahon told Gerstein.
Brinkema ruled recently that prosecutors cannot require Risen to testify about his confidential sources. It is not clear whether the government will appeal that ruling.