It’s different for Deutch: A guilty plea, no prison time and the loss of his security clearances. No jail time, no fines, no charges of mishandling.

The Justice Department initially declined to prosecute Deutch in 1999 after a yearlong review of the case. When Deutch left the CIA in December 1996, CIA security officials had discovered he had written and stored highly classified intelligence reports on home computers linked to the Internet. Deutch has publicly apologized for his behavior. But Attorney General Janet Reno ordered a review of the case after the CIA inspector general later completed a report on the episode. Prosecutor Paul Coffey concluded that criminal charges should be filed.

Some observers had noted that a prosecution of Deutch was initially declined but that the government filed 59 felony charges against fired scientist Wen Ho Lee over his handling of nuclear weapons secrets at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Some questioned whether that was evenhanded treatment.

But prosecutors always viewed the two cases quite differently. Deutch was mishandling classified data that he was working on as part of his job, they noted. But Lee, without authorization, downloaded secrets unrelated to his work, which they considered more suspicious. Lee had been the subject of an espionage investigation, but the government never charged him with spying.

Last September, Lee pleaded guilty to one felony count of mishandling secrets and was released after nine months of pretrial detention in a plea bargain in which he agreed to tell the government how he disposed of copies he made of the secret data.

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