Jeffrey Sterling began serving a 3 1/2 year prison sentence on June 16, 2015. He was convicted of 7 counts under the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking classified information regarding a CIA operation to author James Risen, who in 2006, published a book titled “State of War”. The conviction was based entirely on circumstantial evidence. Mr. Risen was not required to testify and the prosecution could produce no documents, no recordings, nothing that directly linked Jeffrey as a source for the book. In fact, the FBI agent who investigated Jeffrey for over 10 years testified that there was absolutely no evidence that Jeffrey was the source. She stated, "she suspected Mr. Sterling was the source". While the prosecution described Jeffrey as " a disgruntled man who hated the CIA and wanted to settle a score".
Jeffrey became the government’s primary target because he had the audacity to do two things:
He went through appropriate legal channels to address his concerns for the citizens of our country regarding a covert CIA operation, and he filed a discrimination lawsuit against the CIA in August of 2000. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2005, coincidentally because the government asserted proof would require release of classified information. In an effort to have his discrimination story heard, Jeffrey contacted journalists. Subsequently, Mr. Risen wrote an article about Jeffrey's lawsuit. Another story was published in the May 20, 2002 issue of “People” magazine. Here is an excerpt:
“Sterling joined the CIA in 1993 and two years later became a case officer in the Iran Task Force. (He was the only black among its more than 20 professionals.) To prepare, he spent a year studying Farsi, the language of Iran. Sent to Bonn in 1997 to recruit Iranians as agents, he grew frustrated when he wasn't given new prospects to recruit. Perplexed, he returned to Langley and confronted his supervisors. “I asked why I wasn't receiving any assignments. They said, “Well, you kind of stick out as a big black guy,” Sterling recalls. “They said, 'You bring unwanted attention to where you're assigned. Everyone in management agreed I was too conspicuous. And I said, “Well, when did you realize that I was black?”
Jeffrey is due to be released to a halfway house in January of 2018, and his sentence ends in June of 2018. That day cannot arrive soon enough as he has endured horrific and inhumane treatment during his wrongful incarceration. He suffered 3 cardiac episodes, as he has a history of atrial fibrillation and was never taken to a hospital for proper treatment. It was only until the public/media was informed of this tragedy and demanded he receive medical treatment that he was finally taken to a cardiologist. The doctor prescribed medication, however, Jeffrey received his medication several days after the appointment and often does not receive his refills before he runs out. This past April, Jeffrey was threatened by a corrections officer with physical violence and when asked to see the lieutenant and file a written grievance, he was placed into solitary confinement for 3 days again without receiving his heart medication.
For almost two decades the government has shamelessley pursued the destruction of Jeffrey’s professional and personal life because he stood up for his constitutional rights and would not plead guilty to a crime he did not commit. However, the human spirit is resilient and there are two things that the government can’t take away and that is the integrity of an honest man and the love of friends and family both near and far.
Jeffrey and his wife Holly face many challenges in the coming months and years. The appeal process was not in Jeffrey’s favor and he will exit the federal prison system a convicted felon and a convicted traitor to the country he stil loves. Please consider making a donation to assist with preparing for Jeffrey's homecoming. He has a long road ahead trying to obtain employment with 7 wrongful convictions for espionage. Unfortunately, he has not been employed since the day of his arrest on January 6, 2011. His former employer fired him and no one else would hire him while under federal indictment. Your donations will assist with general life expenses and help Jeffrey and his family begin their journey of overcoming this grave miscarriage of justice.