Sub sailor’s photo case draws comparisons to Clinton emails
A Navy sailor entered a guilty plea Friday in a classified information mishandling case that critics charge illustrates a double standard between the treatment of low-ranking government employees and top officials like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus.Prosecutors allege that Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier used a cellphone camera to take photos in the classified engine room of the nuclear submarine where he worked as a mechanic, the USS Alexandria, then destroyed a laptop, camera and memory card after learning he was under investigation.
Last July, Saucier was indicted on one felony count of unlawful retention of national defense information and another felony count of obstruction of justice. He pleaded guilty Friday to the classified information charge, which is part of the Espionage Act, a prosecution spokesman confirmed. No charge of espionage was filed and no public suggestion has been made that he ever planned to disclose the photos to anyone outside the Navy.
The sailor now faces a maximum possible sentence of up to ten years in prison, but faced up to 30 years if found guilty on both charges. Federal guidelines discussed in court Friday appear to call for a sentence of about five to six-and-a-half years, although the defense has signaled it will seek a lighter sentence.
Saucier’s friends, conservative commentators and others say the stiff charges leveled against Saucier were out of whack with more lenient treatment given to senior officials who face allegations of mishandling classified information, like Clinton.