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Former CIA Officer Receives Light Sentence In Iran Leaks Case

A former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency officer was sentenced May 11 to 3 ½ years in prison for leaking details of a secret mission to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, escaping harsh penalties sought by the U.S. government.

Jeffrey Sterling, 47, had faced federal sentencing guidelines calling for 20 years or more, and prosecutors urged a severe penalty to discourage leaks which damage national security and threaten the lives of spies.

A jury convicted him in January of telling New York Times journalist James Risen about a classified plan to trick the Iranian government by slipping flawed nuclear blueprints through a Russian intermediary.

Former U.S.Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified at Sterling's trial that the leaked mission was one of the few options available to the U.S. as it sought to stop Iran's nuclear program.

The prosecution was started under President George W. Bush, but it became a defining case in the Obama administration's crackdown on government leaks.

Based on reporting by AP and the New York Times