"When the verdict was announced, I couldn’t breathe."

Today, my husband and former CIA operative Jeffrey Sterling is sitting in a prison cell for a crime he did not commit. Earlier this year, he was convicted on circumstantial evidence for merely communicating with a New York Times reporter many years ago. Simply speaking to a reporter is not illegal, yet Jeffrey was sentenced to 3.5 years behind bars.

When the verdict was announced, I couldn’t breathe – I was in total shock. For over nine years, Jeffrey committed his life to protecting his country for the CIA. To Jeffrey, joining this elite organization was his way to serve our country – his life-long dream. In fact, while in law school, Jeffrey applied to the CIA the same day he heard about its application.

America’s safety has always been Jeffrey’s number one focus. So much so that he formally spoke with the Senate Intelligence Committee about an operation he was involved in because he feared it could put U.S. soldiers in danger. I believe that Jeffrey’s arrest and trial is retribution for him being a CIA whistleblower and have started a petition requesting he be pardoned immediately.  And I’m not the only one who thinks so – Reporters without Borders, Center for Media and Democracy, and ExposeFacts agree Jeffrey’s conviction is a grave mistake.

Jeffrey Sterling 

Jeffrey Sterling 

The idea that Jeffrey would put America in danger is simply ridiculous. While Jeffrey was convicted for merely being in touch with a journalist, someone like Former CIA Director, General David Petraeus was given a fine and probation after being found guilty of similar crimes. There is no reason that Jeffrey should be behind bars, especially for a crime he did not commit.

Jeffrey is upstanding citizen – he’s gracious, talented, intelligent, and well-loved. His sentence has destroyed our lives. Despite our pleas, he is being kept in a prison in Colorado, which is over 900 miles from our home in St. Louis, Missouri. I talk to him every day, but only see him once a month. We’re doing the best we can, but without your help I fear that I may not see my husband for years to come.

If you feel moved to support my husband, you can sign my petition here.


Holly Sterling’s husband, Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA operative, was found guilty of espionage in January 2015 after having conversations with a New York Times reporter, James Risen, who wrote a book mentioning an operation to which Sterling was assigned.  Holly is asking that her husband, who was sentenced to 3.5 years, be released immediately. Reporters Without Borders, among other organizations, has stated “the DOJ chose to make an example of Jeffrey Sterling, to warn government employees against talking to journalists.”

Holly’s story is part of our Voices of Change series, which highlights how people are using the platform to change their lives and the lives of those around them.