CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Close To Death In Federal Prison
Above Photo: Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, left, leaves the Alexandria Federal Courthouse on Jan. 26 with his wife Holly, center, and attorney Barry Pollack, after being convicted on all nine counts he faced of leaking classified information to a reporter. Photo: Kevin Wolf/AP
UPDATE: Under pressure from media and supporters, prison officials said they will consider CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling’s request to consult with an outside cardiologist.
An activist who led a 24-hour vigil for Jeffrey Sterling said his treatment is meant to ‘send out a signal so that others working in security will not come out and reveal what our government is doing.’
LITTLETON, Colorado — Jeffrey Sterling, one of the most recent victims of the U.S. government’s war on whistleblowers, may be at risk of dying in a Colorado prison.
In an interview published Tuesday in The Colorado Independent, the wife of the CIA whistleblower warned that his health is failing due to inadequate medical care at FCI Englewood, the federal prison where he is serving a sentence of three-and-a-half years.
“I’m concerned my husband may die,” Holly Sterling told the Independent’s Corey Hutchins. “I’m extremely concerned.”
Beginning Tuesday evening, a small group of activists held a 24-hour vigil near FCI Englewood to raise awareness of the whistleblower’s plight.
— Arn Menconi (@ArnMenconi) August 17, 2016
In May 2015, Jeffrey Sterling was convicted on nine felony charges, including seven charges of violating the Espionage Act, for revealing information about Operation Merlin, a secret CIA operation carried out under President Bill Clinton to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.
However, as Shadowproof’s Kevin Gosztola noted in October, the evidence against Sterling was largely circumstantial. “At trial in January, the government presented no emails showing Sterling and Risen had ever communicated about ‘Operation Merlin’ or even classified information,” he reported.
Instead, Gosztola and others have argued that Sterling was targeted for speaking out against racism at the CIA. Gosztola wrote:
“Sterling communicated with [New York Times journalist James] Risen, but it was about a lawsuit he filed against the CIA alleging racial discrimination. The lawsuit went all the way to the Supreme Court and was eventually dismissed because the government invoked the ‘state secrets privilege’ to avoid litigation of his claims.”
Sterling’s wife shared with the Independent a complaint filed by the whistleblower on Aug. 11 about the “unresponsive and dismissive medical care” he’s received in prison. The Independent reported that, according to the complaint, Sterling “continually suffers chest pressure, shortness of breath, sweating and an uneven heartbeat, but isn’t receiving adequate care, and instead is being told to drink more water.”
In addition to seeking outside medical attention, Sterling has requested that the prison transfer his medical records to his wife so she can have them reviewed by a specialist.
Arn Menconi, the activist and Green Party candidate for Senate who organized the vigil outside FCI Englewood, told the Independent that Sterling is one of many victims in a federal war on whistleblowers.
“Americans should know that President Obama has indicted more whistleblowers than any president in history and this is to send out a signal so that others working in security will not come out and reveal what our government is doing,” Menconi told the Independent.
A September statement from Reporters Without Borders emphasized that the treatment of whistleblowers like Sterling was a major factor behind the United States’ poor standing in the organization’s annual Press Freedom Index. Currently, the U.S. currently ranks 41 out of 180 countries.
Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders, said:
“Is a relationship with a reporter the new catalyst for government prosecution of whistleblowers, whether alleged or actual? If anybody can be sentenced in the United States just because he was merely talking to a journalist on a regular basis, where is press freedom heading in the country of the First Amendment?”
Watch “Sterling verdict shows government hypocritically targets whistleblowers – Norman Solomon” from RT America: