Federal prosecutors charged Jeffrey Sterling with 10 counts related to improperly keeping and disclosing national security information.
The Justice Department does not say specifically what was leaked but, from the dates and other details, it is clear that case centers on leaks to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen for his 2006 book, "State of War." The book revealed details about the CIA's covert spy war with Iran.
Sterling served on the Iranian desk at the CIA.
The Justice Department had twice subpoenaed Risen to force him to reveal his sources, but he refused.
The indictment was unsealed Thursday in Alexandria, Va.