The former top U.S. Treasury official who leaked tens of thousands of records exposing illicit finance investigations around the world will not be released from federal prison sooner, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
Natalie Mayflower Sour Edwards, a 43-year-old former senior adviser to the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), claimed she was a whistleblower when she leaked a record trove of suspicious activity reports, also known as SARs. , to the BuzzFeed reporter Jason Leopold.
BuzzFeed then partnered with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 400 journalists in 88 countries to separate and release what became known as the “FinCEN Files.” As BuzzFeed summarizes, the catalog of 200,000 suspicious financial transactions provided an “unprecedented view of global financial corruption, the banks that allow it, and the government agencies that watch it thrive.”
U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods, a barack obama named, concluded that Edwards’ revelations constituted a reckless exposure of US national security secrets she was sworn to protect.
“Dr. Sours Edwards disclosed approximately 50,000 records, including at least 2,000 individual SARs, to someone she knew intended to make them public,” Woods wrote Tuesday. Dr. Sours Edwards divulged, there were leads regarding the financing of the terrorist organization, Hezbollah. […] She also disclosed information about ongoing sensitive law enforcement operations.
The judge added that the files she disclosed could have tipped off financial criminals and challenged the privacy of innocent third parties.
“SARs are used by investigative agencies to uncover money laundering, terrorism and other crimes,” the government says. “Disclosure harms the interests of law enforcement and the privacy of innocent people who may be the subject of the reports.”
Currently serving a 6-month sentence inside the West Virginia-based Alderson Federal Correctional Camp, Edwards is set to be released on February 28 this year. She called for his immediate release amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic among prison populations.
Judge Woods, who repeatedly postponed her sentencing because of the spread, denied that any suspension of sentence was deserved.
“The defendant’s reported negative experiences in prison do not materially impact the Court’s assessment of sentencing factors,” Woods wrote. “The accused’s crime was very serious. The Court considered the defendant’s medical history and the existence of COVID in the federal prison system at the time of sentencing. The manifestations of these problems described in its memorandum and supporting statement do not materially change the Court’s assessment. The Court’s assessment of the need for personal and general deterrence has not changed. Neither did his assessment of the other sentencing factors.
Since the Treasury’s release, BuzzFeed has strongly defended Edwards for disclosing more than 200,000 suspicious financial transactions valued at more than $2 trillion at multiple global financial institutions over nearly two decades. His supporters say records show bank regulators are doing little to stop apparent money laundering and other financial crimes.
News outlets like the European Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) have teamed up with Courthouse News on what FinCEN knew about the convicted Iranian-Turkish money launderer. Reza Zarrab, the man behind a multi-billion dollar scheme to break US sanctions on Iran.
OCCRP also worked with Law&Crime on what Standard Chartered Bank might have known about Zarrab’s conspiracy with Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank.
Denying that she was a whistleblower, prosecutors said Edwards leaked the records to advance his “own political agenda, which included disrupting or distracting from the special counsel’s investigation.” Robert S. Mueller III.” Edwards said in a private message that the special counsel “has to come down as well,” prosecutors said.
Edwards made his revelations at the height of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“Of course, none of the SARs questioned the merits or adequacy of the special counsel’s investigation either, although the leaking of some of the SARs could reasonably have had a negative impact on it,” he said. said the Assistant United States Attorney. Kimberly J.Raven wrote in a sentencing note in October 2020. “And that is precisely what the defendant hoped would happen.”
A now-deleted Twitter account attributed to Edwards in the government memo showed a hodgepodge of far-right conspiracy theories and causes, including pro-Trump memes, criticism of COVID-19 mask restrictions and a retweet of a call from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to impeach the president Joe Biden.
She also, from that account, retweeted a post suggesting she had been framed, even though her followers argue she should be pardoned for her now admitted actions.
Read the judge’s decision below:
(Photo by Alexandria Sheriff’s Office)
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