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Plea Deal Reached In Classified Leaks Case

The Justice Department has reached a plea deal in a controversial leak case against a former National Security Agency worker.

Thomas Drake will plead guilty to one charge of unauthorized use of a computer because he accessed the agency's intranet and improperly shared that information with a reporter.

Drake had been charged with obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI and illegal possession of classified NSA documents under the seldom-used Espionage Act of 1917, even though he was not charged with spying. If he had been convicted of those crimes, he could have faced up to 35 years in prison.

The charge to which Drake will plead carries a 1-year maximum prison term, but under the plea deal prosecutors have agreed not to oppose that he serve a noncustodial sentence.

The last-minute plea agreement resolves a case that had given federal prosecutors major headaches. Transparency activists said the Obama administration was going after whistleblowers.

Drake's lawyers claim he is a beleaguered whistleblower, while prosecutors say the only issue in the case is whether he illegally kept classified materials on a personal computer and in his basement.

NPR's Carrie Johnson contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press

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NPR Staff and Wires