Terry Albury is the former FBI official turned whistleblower who pled guilty to violating the Espionage Act after he leaked classified documents to the press. On October 18, Albury was sentenced to four years in prison.
Here’s what you need to know about Terry Albury:
1. Albury Leaked Information About the FBI’s Guidelines for Investigating Counter-terrorism
Albury’s lawyer said that Albury, the sole African American agent in the FBI’s Minneapolis field office, was upset by the racism he observed in the office. Albury believed that there were systemic problems in the way that his office interacted with the Somali community in Minneapolis. His defense argued that that’s why Albury leaked documents revealing the FBI’s policy on dealing with possible witnesses in terror cases, handing the documents to online news source The Intercept.
Albury’s defense team wrote, “It was Mr. Albury’s code of morality and commitment to the rule of law that drove this offense. He simply could not reconcile these core beliefs with the widespread racist and xenophobic sentiments he observed throughout the white-male dominated FBI, and more importantly, the discriminatory practices and policies he observed and implemented in the FBI’s counter-terrorism strategies.”
Government prosecutors said that in fact, Albury had every intention of leaking even more documents to the press — which, they said, proved that he was not acting out of conscience.
2. Albury Also Leaked Information About the FBI’s Treatment of Journalists
Albury has won the support of the Coalition to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a watchdog group which works on press freedom issues around the world. CPJ calls Albury “deserving of the support of journalists everywhere.” That’s in part because Albury leaked information about the FBI’s treatment of journalists.
That information was sent to The Intercept; Albury sent it anonymously, but he has since admitted that he was the source. The article says that ever since 2013, it’s been relatively easy for FBI agents to obtain permission to secretly wiretap a journalist’s phone; obtaining that permission becomes even easier if the journalist is employed by certain foreign media. You can read the Intercept story, and the underlying classified documents, here.
3. Albury’s Mother Was a Political Refugee from Ethiopia
Albury was born in Northern California, the son of an Ethiopian political refugee. Court documents say that Albury was “raised with a strong sense of social justice and appreciation of the rule of law.” He attended a boarding school for underprivileged youth in Kentucky, and then went to Berea College. While there, he spent his weekends working as a big brother to Appalachian children who came from unstable homes.
While in college, Albury spent a summer interning with the FBI, which convinced him that he wanted to work for the agency full time. He went to work as an Investigative Specialist after graduating from college and then was trained to become an agent, graduating from Quantico in 2005.
4. Albury Spent a Year Interrogating Terror Suspects in Iraq
Albury served in Iraq from 2009 to 2010. He was charged with interrogating Iraqi detainees but, according to The Intercept, Albury quickly became uncomfortable with the work he was doing. There were several times when he worried that he was becoming complicit with torture, according to The Intercept: “once when a detainee was brought in, blindfolded, shackled, and visibly in pain, by CIA officers working with Iraqi special forces, and once when he expressed frustration to a military officer about a detainee, and the officer “assured him the prisoner would be more cooperative at the next interrogation.”
In 2012, Albury returned to the United States and was posted to the FBI’s field office in Minneapolis.
5. Albury Is Married & Has Two Young Children
According to court filings, Albury’s wife is the daughter of Cambodian refugees. The couple married after a two-year courtship. They have two young children. Mrs Albury had been planning on a career in law enforcement but decided to put her career on hold so that she could stay home with the children. Court documents say that the Alburys have a happy, successful marriage:
“Their marriage is strong and loving, and Mrs. Albury describes her husband as “a nurturing and hands-on father,” who “always emphasized the importance of working hard and pursuing education . . . and taught their daughter to read and write.”