Prosecutors won their case against an ex-CIA officer accused of leaking details of a classified operation to a reporter, and they did it without any help from the reporter who received the leak.

The conviction Monday of former CIA man Jeffrey Sterling of O'Fallon, Missouri, showed that prosecutors can win those cases even if reporters refuse to divulge their sources.

For years, prosecutors tried to force New York Times journalist James Risen to reveal whether Sterling had been a confidential source for his 2006 book, "State of War." The book details an operation to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.

But Risen refused to talk and prosecutors were forced to build a circumstantial case.

Some free-press advocates say the verdict will scare potential sources from talking to reporters.