Former U.S. State Department contractor Stephen Kim was sentenced to 13 months in prison for disclosing intelligence on North Korea to a Fox News reporter in a case that sparked criticism from free-press advocates of the Obama administration’s crackdown on unauthorized leaks.
U.S. Attorney Ron Machen in Washington, who announced today’s sentence in a statement, said he hopes the prosecution will deter similar conduct.
Kim, 46, was accused of passing information about North Korea’s military capabilities to reporter James Rosen in June 2009 and of making a false statement to the FBI.
He pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to unauthorized disclosure of national-defense information. The false-statement charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement.
Criticism of the Justice Department’s handling of Kim’s case and of its conduct in another inquiry involving the Associated Press led Attorney General Eric Holder last year to tighten guidelines for prosecutors pursuing cases involving the news media.
Kim was a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employee assigned to the State Department as a senior intelligence adviser.
At the time of the guilty plea, Kim’s attorney Abbe Lowell issued a statement saying that his client pleaded guilty to avoid the expense of a trial and the possibility of a prison sentence as long as 15 years.
Lowell described the classified information Kim was accused of leaking as “less sensitive or surprising than what we read in the newspaper every day.”
The case is U.S. v. Kim, 10-cr-225, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, (Washington).