News Release

Wife of CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Asks Obama to Pardon Him


Sterling-v2The Intercept reports: “Wife of CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Asks Obama to Pardon Him.” Courthouse News reports: “The wife of jailed CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling called on President Barack Obama to pardon her husband Wednesday, delivering a petition for his freedom to the White House.

“Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, has served eight months of a 42-month sentence after being convicted of nine felony counts — including espionage — for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen.

“His wife of 10 years, Holly Sterling, declared her husband’s innocence during a Wednesday morning press conference before the petition’s release. ‘He’s in prison, and he doesn’t belong there,’ she said.”

Also at the news conference was Cornel West, prominent civil rights activist, scholar and professor at Union Theological Seminary. He said: “Never in the history of this nation has there been a black person who had the courage to fight racial discrimination against the CIA, never in the history of this nation has there been a black man in the White House that would allow him to go to jail unjustly. Two black men, one in power, one dealing with the arbitrary uses of power of that president. Shame on you, President Obama.”

The news conference was organized by ExposeFacts, Reporters Without Borders and ExposeFacts is a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy. See special coverage of the Sterling trial at

HOLLY STERLING, [in D.C. till Friday evening] via Sam Husseini,  sam at Holly Sterling is the wife of Jeffrey Sterling. She spoke at the news conference WednesdayVideo of news conference is here; see media advisory.

Radack is national security and human rights director of the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts. She said at the news conference: “The Obama administration has presided over the most draconian crackdown on national security and intelligence community whistleblowers in U.S. history. The Justice Department has used the antiquated Espionage Act as a bludgeon to threaten, silence and imprison whistleblowers for alleged mishandling of classified information. Meanwhile, powerful, politically-connected individuals accused of the same conduct receive a slap on the wrist, or no punishment at all. Some even run for President of the U.S.”

Radack continued: “Using the Espionage Act against whistleblowers is grossly unfair. Courts have held that the government does not have to prove any harm to national security and does not have to prove any bad intent on the whistleblower’s part. Classification rules mean large parts of the trials, including Sterling’s, are conducted in secret — shielded from media and public scrutiny.

“Sterling’s conviction is a gross miscarriage of justice.

“The Espionage Act case against Sterling was the first — and so far only case — handed over to a jury and the unjust result epitomizes the wrongheadedness of using the Espionage Act against whistleblowers. …

“Jeffrey Sterling is a whistleblower. Sterling is a whistleblower because in 2003, he met with staff from the Senate Intelligence Committee to raise concerns about a botched [CIA] nuclear operation called Merlin. Sterling’s case is reminiscent of that of my clients NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake, Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, and Ed Loomis. My clients also used internal government channels, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, to report misconduct and became the targets of a federal criminal leak investigation for a news story by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and presidential pariah James Risen that they had nothing to do with.”