The Justice Department on Jan. 23 charged a former CIA officer with leaking classified information, including the identities of agents participating in the capture and interrogation of alleged terrorists.
In a statement released by the Justice Department, according to CNN, the agent being charged is former CIA counter-terrorism analyst John Kiriakou, 47. He is charged on one count with violating the Espionage Act and on a second count with allegedly disclosing the identity of a covert officer.
Kiriakou became known in 2007, when he claimed in an interview that a senior al-Qaida operative was broken in 35 seconds after being waterboarded, a controversial technique that makes the person being interrogated feel as if he is drowning.
The controversial interrogation technique has since been banned by the Obama administration.
“From that day on, he answered every question,” Kiriakou told ABC News. Kiriakou was referring to known terrorist Abu Zubaydah. Kiriakou claimed that “the threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.”
In fact, however, Zubaydah was water-boarded 83 times in August 2002, the New York Times wrote, and Kiriakou later admitted he wasn’t present at the water-boarding interrogations as he had implied.
The Justice Department alleged that Kiriakou leaked information to not only the New York Times but a number of other news organizations in 2008 and 2009 about some of the CIA’s most sensitive undertakings since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. These operations include the capture of the alleged al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida and the person who took credit for masterminding the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Since President Obama took office, Kiriakou is the sixth person prosecuted for such leaks. This is more than the total number of such prosecutions conducted by all previous administrations.
CIA director David H. Petraeus told employees of the agency that although he could not disclose any details of the case against Kiriakou, “the illegal passage of secrets is an abuse of trust that may put lives in jeopardy.”
If Kiriakou is convicted he would face a 30-year jail term and have to pay a $1 million fine.