A former CIA agent from southeast Missouri convicted of espionage says the agency made an example of him. Jeffrey Sterling of Cape Girardeau spent more than three years in federal prison after a jury decided he leaked information to a journalist. Sterling tells Missourinet affiliate KSSZ in Columbia that he’s innocent and the government wanted to scare off any future potential whistleblowers.

Former CIA agent from Missouri says espionage conviction was ‘payback’

“Individuals such as Cartwright, Petraeus, just mountains of evidence of them betraying the trust for classified information. Yet I am put on trial, prosecuted for doing something I did not do,” Sterling says.

He says the prosecution was payback for him accusing the agency of racial discrimination.

“Just the aspect of whistleblowing, standing up for yourself. Reprisal is something very real, especially in a place with any intelligence community, especially the CIA,” he says.

Sterling says it was “shocking” to be charged by the government he served while in the CIA.

“To be charged with basically being a spy for the country, against the country I love, was very hard for me to deal with,” says Sterling.

He got out of prison last year. Sterling spoke on the Mizzou campus this week about his new book “Unwanted Spy.”

By Brad Tregnago of Missourinet afilliate KSSZ in Columbia