March 29 (UPI) -- A Minnesota-based FBI agent has been charged with leaking classified information to a reporter for a series of online articles, authorities said.
The Justice Department said agent Terry Albury, a counter-terrorism liaison, "knowingly and willfully" transmitted documents relating to national defense to a reporter.
Albury, who started his career as an FBI intern in 2000, also was charged for refusing to hand over documents to the government.
The documents were leaked to the online news site The Intercept, which used them in a series called "The FBI's Secret Rules" -- which detailed the expansion of FBI oversight after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Intercept Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed issued a statement acknowledging the case against an alleged FBI whistleblower in Minnesota, but did not confirm or deny Albury's alleged role in the series.
Albury's attorneys, JaneAnne Murray and Joshua Dratel, said their client was the only African-American FBI field agent in the Minnesota office and was "driven by a conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI."
"Terry Albury served the U.S. with distinction both here at home and abroad in Iraq," the attorneys said. "He accepts full responsibility for the conduct set forth in the Information."
In March 2016, The Intercept made two Freedom of Information Act requests for documents not available to the public. About 27 documents were published by The Intercept between April of that year and February 2017.
"The FBI believes that the classified and/or controlled nature of the documents indicates the News Outlet obtained these documents from someone with direct access to them," a Justice Department warrant said. "Furthermore, reviews of the FBI internal records indicate Albury has electronically accessed over two thirds of the approximately 27 documents via trusted access granted to him on FBI information systems."
The FBI said it believes that The Intercept had copies of the documents before making the FOIA request, and "used its knowledge of such documents" to create the requests.
Last year, video surveillance footage captured Albury at his office at the airport taking photos of his computer screen that displayed classified information.
Albury is the second person charged with leaking secret documents to The Intercept. In June, federal agents arrested Reality Leigh Winner, a contractor for Pluribus International Corporation who'd been assigned to the National Security Agency in Georgia.