Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who is accused of disclosing sensitive information to an author and obstructing justice, pleaded not guilty today in federal court in Alexandria, Va.
A federal grand jury returned a 10-count indictment against Sterling on Dec. 22, and the indictment was unsealed last week. Today was Sterling’s scheduled arraignment.
Sterling entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, a Justice Department spokeswoman said. Sterling also waived his right to a speedy trail. A trial date has not been set.
“He has always maintained that he’s innocent of these charges, and we’re now going to have to prove that in court,” said Sterling’s lawyer, Edward MacMahon, who has offices in Washington and Middleburg, Va. The court appointed MacMahon last week.
Though the indictment of Sterling did not name the recipient of his alleged leaks, it is widely believed to be New York Times reporter and author James Risen. Risen’s lawyer has said his client did not cooperate with the government’s investigation.
The case has drawn attention to the Obama administration’s aggressive pursuit of suspected government leakers. The Federation of American Scientists, which follows government secrecy, has said that the government’s five leak cases brought during the Obama administration represent more than the total for all previous administrations.
Representing the government at today’s hearing was a team of lawyers including William Welch II, a senior litigation counsel in DOJ’s Criminal Division and former chief of its Public Integrity Section.