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Criminal Referrals for Leaks of Sensitive Government Information Have Surged

April 19, 2019 / Lindy Kyzer

Leaks are more than fodder for congressional debate and presidential tweets leaks of classified information remains an ongoing and growing problem, with the number of criminal reports related to the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information surging over the past two years, according to Justice Department data recently obtained by the Federation of American Scientists. Justice fielded 120 criminal leak referrals in 2017, and 88 in 2018. During calendar years 2009 through 2015, the highest number of leaks reported in any one year was 55, and the average was 39. The uptick in leak cases doesn’t necessarily mean more leaks are happening today than before, but it does shine a light on the reality of the Justice Department’s battle to enforce criminal prosecutions against leaks. The figures obtained by the Federation of American Scientists only reveal leaks of classified information subject to criminal prosecution, not leaks that weren’t referred for criminal prosecu...