By Colleen Jenkins
Former US military commander and CIA director David Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine on Thursday after pleading guilty to mishandling classified information.
The retired four-star general admitted to giving the information to his mistress, who was writing his biography. He pleaded guilty in federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina, to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.
The judge raised the fine from the $40,000 recommended in a plea deal, noting it needed to be higher to be punitive.
“This increased fine amount is necessary so the combined sentence reflects the seriousness of the offense,” said US Magistrate Judge David Keesler during the hearing.
Petraeus, 62, who served stints as the top US commander in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned from the CIA in 2012 after it was revealed that he was having an affair with the biographer, Army Reserve officer Paula Broadwell.
Petraeus, dressed in a dark suit and blue tie, showed no emotion as he read from a prepared statement.
“I also want to take this opportunity to apologize to those closest to me and others for the pain that my actions have caused,” he said in court.
Keesler noted that defense attorneys submitted letters from heads of state and high-ranking US military officials calling Petraeus one of the finest military leaders of his generation.
Keesler said he had “committed a grave but very uncharacteristic error in judgment.”
Civil liberties and government transparency advocates had questioned the plea deal, saying the government’s lenient treatment of Petraeus suggested prosecutors maintain double standards. Defendants in other leak cases have received harsher punishments, including prison.
Petraeus’ attorney, David Kendall, said in court it would have been unprecedented to incarcerate the former general for the charge he faced.
“This is not a case about the dissemination to the public of classified information,” Kendall said. “No classified information appeared in the biography. Not a single syllable.”
US prosecutor James Melendres noted that Petraeus had been entrusted with the government’s highest secrets.
“The defendant betrayed that trust,” he said in court.