A former CIA officer convicted of leaking classified details of an operation to derail Iran's nuclear ambitions would spend 20 years in prison if a judge follows federal sentencing guidelines.
Jeffrey Sterling of O'Fallon, Missouri, will be sentenced next month in Alexandria following his conviction in January. A jury found him guilty of illegally disclosing to New York Times journalist James Risen a secret mission to stall Iran's nuclear weapons program by feeding them deliberately flawed blueprints.
Prosecutors on Monday filed papers urging a severe sentence, but declining to spell out a specific recommendation. They said probation officers correctly calculated a sentencing guidelines range of 20 to 24 years.
The government cited testimony during the trial from former national security adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the plan was one of the best options the U.S. had in its admittedly limited ability to confront Iran's plans to build a nuclear weapon as part of their argument for a severe sentence.
Rice convinced the Times to spike a newspaper article that would have divulged the program, but Risen later included it in a book, State of War.