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Obama administration has prosecuted media leakers more than all other presidential administrations combined

The American Civil Liberties Union is among the many advocates for putting a halt to the federal government’s ongoing prosecution of Pulitzer-winning reporter James Risen. In researching facts pertaining to the Risen case, the ACLU discovered an interesting fact: The Obama administration beats all of recorded history in its rate of jailing accused media leakers.

“Partially because of press freedom concerns, sentencing in media leak cases has historically been relatively light,” the ACLU’s Gabe Rothman wrote this week. “Not so under President Obama. When it comes to sending these folks to jail, the Obama administration blows every other presidency combined out of the water — by a lot.”

Here’s Rothman on the contrast between the Obama administration and everybody else:

By my count, the Obama administration has secured 526 months of prison time for national security leakers, versus only 24 months total jail time for everyone else since the American Revolution. It’s important — and telling — to note that the bulk of that time is the 35 years in Fort Leavenworth handed down to Chelsea Manning.

Rothman lists eight separate cases under Obama that have either already produced jail sentences or for which the case disposition is still pending. By far, the longest sentence was handed down to Manning, who was given 420 months for his role in delivering intelligence documents about the Afghan and Iraqi wars to WikiLeaks.

For his part, Risen is still waiting for the federal government to decide whether it will continue its attempts to compel him to testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling. Sterling is a former CIA employee suspected of informing Risen about the government’s alleged sabotage of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Risen published a 2006 book, “State of War,” which discussed the covert program but did not reveal the source of the information. He won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting that same year for stories about U.S. spying.

Risen also won the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for journalism earlier this month. In accepting the award, he told an audience he believes Obama “hates the press.”

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