ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The list of people sent to prison for exposing government secrets has grown one name longer with the 3 ½-year sentence for former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling.

Although his lawyers expressed relief Monday that the sentence was relatively light compared with the decades that could have been imposed, advocates for whistleblowers and journalists saw it as further evidence of the unequal treatment for those whose disclosures are seen as an embarrassment to the government.

Sterling, of O'Fallon, Missouri, was convicted of leaking details of a secret mission to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions by slipping flawed nuclear blueprints to the Iranians through a Russian intermediary. He faced a term of 20 years or more under federal sentencing guidelines.

Defense lawyers say they still plan to appeal the conviction.

More From WIBX 950