April 17 (UPI) -- An FBI whistle-blower on Tuesday pleaded guilty to giving classified information to a reporter about the agency's methods for conducting surveillance on political, religious and minority groups.
Terry Albury, 39, faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of making an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and one count of unlawful retention of national defense information.
Albury worked as an FBI Special Agent in the Minneapolis field office when he leaked classified documents, including an unredacted copy of the agency's Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, to The Intercept. Those documents revealed how the FBI skirts its own rules for infiltrating political, religious and minority groups for surveillance.
The materials were then published in a multi-part series in The Intercept titled, The FBI's Secret Rules.
Albury's attorneys, JaneAnne Murray and Joshua Dratel, told Minnesota Public Radio that their client was "driven by his belief that there was no viable alternative to remedy the abuses he sought to address."
"It has long been a critique of the FBI that it consists of and reflects a predominantly white male culture, which, as a result, has often treated minority communities with suspicion and disrespect," they said. "For Terry, the only African-American field agent in the Minneapolis office, the problem of racism both within the FBI and its interactions with minority communities was especially pronounced."
According to prosecutors, Albury began leaking the documents in 2016 and continued through August 2017. To avoid detection, he copied classified information and pasted it into a new document before printing. He also accessed information on classified computers and took pictures of the screen.
Albury is the second federal employee to be arrested for leaking classified information during the Trump administration. The other, National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner, also allegedly leaked information to The Intercept.
Winner, 26, faces a felony charge under the Espionage Act. Her case is still pending.