WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) - Former U.S. military commander and CIA director David Petraeus will appear in federal court in North Carolina on Thursday to face sentencing for allegedly leaking secrets to a mistress who was writing his biography.
Petraeus, a now-retired U.S. Army General, has already agreed to plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.
As part of the agreement with prosecutors filed in March, the government will not seek any prison time. Instead, Petraeus will agree to pay a $40,000 fine and receive two years of probation, according to court documents.
The recommendations are not binding on the federal judge who will preside at the hearing Thursday afternoon in Charlotte.
Petraeus, who served stints as the top U.S. commander in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned from the CIA in 2012 after it was revealed that he was having an affair with the biographer, Army Reserve officer Paula Broadwell.
A court document signed by Petraeus and prosecutors says that in 2011, before he became the CIA director, the four-star general illegally gave Broadwell access to binders, known as "black books," that included classified information.
He also is accused of improperly storing classified materials at his residence and falsely telling the FBI in October 2012 that he had not shared any classified information with Broadwell.
Petraeus' lawyer, David Kendall, had no comment ahead of the plea and sentencing hearing.
Civil liberties and government transparency advocates say the government's lenient treatment of Petraeus suggests prosecutors maintain double standards. Other leak case defendants have received harsher punishments, such as former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who was sent to prison.
Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who represents former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, said he was not against lighter sentences for people involved in leaking, so long as such treatment is handed out equally.
"The problem is not that David Petraeus is getting lenient treatment," Wizner said. "The problem is that lenient treatment is only available to people in high places." (Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Eric Walsh)