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Ex-CIA officer in leak case found guilty of espionage

[WASHINGTON] A former CIA officer was convicted of espionage charges Monday for having leaked to a New York Times journalist classified details of a secret operation to thwart Iran's nuclear program.

Jurors found Jeffrey Sterling guilty on all nine counts he faced in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

The conviction marked a victory of sorts for President Barack Obama's administration in its crackdown on whistleblowers. It has used the nearly century-old Espionage Act to prosecute government officials suspected of leaking classified data.

The case has dragged in court for years as prosecutors pressed Times journalist James Risen to reveal his sources. Risen was subpoenaed in 2008 and again in 2011 ordering him to testify at Sterling's trial.

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Prosecutors ultimately dropped their attempts to call the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to testify after it became clear he would not reveal his sources, even if jailed, for his account of a bungled CIA operation in Iran that appeared in his 2006 book, "State of War." US District Judge Leonie Brinkema pending his sentencing hearing on April 24.

The case has sparked outcry among media watchdogs, with more than 100,000 supporters signing an online petition delivered to the US Justice Department calling for an end to the prosecution.