Decrying his conviction and prison sentence as "an outrageous miscarriage of justice," the wife of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling was joined Wednesday by prominent activists and transparency advocates in calling for Sterling's immediate pardon and release.
"My husband Jeffrey Sterling is a former CIA operative and an innocent man who was convicted of seven counts of espionage on January 26, 2015—for merely communicating with New York Times journalist James Risen," Holly Sterling writes in a petition that she hand-delivered to the White House on Wednesday morning. "He's now serving a 3.5-year prison sentence in a federal correctional facility in Colorado."
Sterling is accused of handing classified material to Risen detailing the CIA's covert Operation Merlin, which was carried out under the administration of former President Bill Clinton to give the Iranian government false information about nuclear technology in order to delay its alleged nuclear weapons program. A federal court sentenced Sterling to prison after he was convicted of nine felony charges, including seven counts of espionage. He began serving his sentence eight months ago.
The petition, which has garnered more than 150,000 signatures since it launched in December, continues: "An innocent man who dedicated his life to serving the United States has been wrongfully jailed under President Obama’s watch. This is his opportunity to show Jeffrey, our country, and the world what it means to be a true leader by acknowledging and making amends for a grave injustice that has been done. This can only be accomplished by granting Jeffrey Alexander Sterling an immediate pardon."
The Obama administration acknowledged receipt of Holly Sterling's petition, which she dropped off following a morning news conference organized by ExposeFacts, Reporters Without Borders, and RootsAction.org. Civil rights activist and scholar Cornel West, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, and renowned human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack all spoke at the event and accompanied Sterling to the White House gate.
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Radack tweeted highlights from the press conference:
A report published in November 2015 found that the U.S. government is not doing enough to protect national security whistleblowers, leaving those who expose corruption vulnerable to prosecution and allowing government abuses to run rampant.