Former Employee Of Federal Contractor Pleads GuiltyTo Disclosing National Defense Information
WASHINGTON – Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) employee, pleaded guilty today in the District of Columbia in connection with his unauthorized disclosure of national defense information.
At a hearing before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, Kim pleaded guilty to one count of making an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information. The plea agreement, which is contingent upon the Court’s approval, calls for Kim to be sentenced to 13 months in prison, to be followed by a year of supervised release. If the plea is accepted, Kim is to be sentenced on April 2, 2014.
The guilty plea was announced by Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Kim, 46, worked as an LNLL employee on detail to the State Department’s Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation (VCI) at the time of the disclosure. At the time, Kim worked as a Senior Advisor for Intelligence to the Assistant Secretary of State for VCI. According to court documents, on June 11, 2009, Kim knowingly and willfully disclosed TOP SECRET/SENSITIVE COMPARTMENTED INFORMATION (TS/SCI) national defense information to a reporter.
The information concerned the military capabilities and preparedness of North Korea and was contained in an intelligence report classified at the TS/SCI level that Kim accessed on a classified computer database. Within hours of the disclosure, the news organization published an article on the Internet that included the TS/SCI national defense information that Kim had disclosed.
“Today Stephen Kim admitted to violating his oath to protect our country by disclosing highly classified intelligence about North Korea’s military capabilities,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Stephen Kim admits that he wasn’t a whistleblower. He admits that his actions could put America at risk. Within hours of the dissemination of a top secret intelligence report about North Korea, he exposed its secrets, which were then broadcast to the world. As this prosecution demonstrates, we will not waver in our commitment to pursuing and holding accountable government officials who blatantly disregard their obligations to protect our nation’s most highly guarded secrets.”
“Mr. Kim was entrusted with a Top Secret security clearance, which included a responsibility to protect classified national defense information. Instead, he knowingly disclosed that material to someone not authorized to receive it,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave. “Today, as the result of the hard work of dedicated Special Agents, analysts and prosecutors, Mr. Kim has taken responsibility for his illegal action.”
Kim was indicted in August 2010. According to the court documents that were filed today, Kim admitted that he did not believe that he was exposing government waste, fraud, abuse, or any other kind of government malfeasance or misfeasance. Further, Kim admitted that he had reason to believe that his unauthorized disclosure could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation. Finally, he acknowledged that he was never authorized, directly or indirectly, by the United States Government to communicate any national defense information to the media.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys G. Michael Harvey, Jonathan M. Malis, and Thomas A. Bednar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorneys Deborah A. Curtis and Julie A. Edelstein of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.14-035