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The difference is that their intentional leaking of classified information as people with a security clearance is letter of the law illegal. The difference seems huge and obvious to my untrained eye.

To add to this, their acts were intentional. Yes, you're very right that they were very much illegal acts. However, it needn't be intentionally spilled classified information in order to be illegal. Under certain circumstances, even accidental 'spillage' is a felony. Negligent 'spillage' is also very much a felony.

I've been through quite a bit of training and held my clearance for years. I was a victim of the OPM hack. Well, I guess I still am a victim. Mens rea doesn't really apply when handling classified material/data. If it is accidental AND you report it properly, it's not jail - you are so losing your job, however. You also lose your clearance. It has been a while, but I'm pretty sure you lose it forever.

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