Ex-CIA whistleblower charged in leak case

Ex-CIA whistleblower charged in leak case

Ex-CIA whistleblower charged in leak case

Former CIA officer Kiriakou (R) and his lawyer Cacheris leave court in Alexandria on Jan 23. Kiriakou is accused of revealing the names of other covert operatives. AP photo

A former CIA official who publicly confirmed the water boarding of top Al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah was charged Jan. 23 with leaking classified information to journalists, including the identities of two CIA officers.

John Kiriakou, who served with the CIA between 1990 and 2004, was charged with violating a law that makes it illegal to disclose the identity of a covert officer, leaking classified information and lying to a CIA publications review board, the department said. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Kiriakou first came to public attention in an interview with ABC News in Dec. 2007 in which he became the first U.S. official to describe Abu Zubaydah’s waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning widely viewed as torture. CIA director David Petraeus said the spy agency had supported the investigation, and reminded CIA employees of their oath to safeguard classified information. “Given the sensitive nature of many of our agency’s operations and the risks we ask our employees to take, the illegal passage of secrets is an abuse of trust that may put lives in jeopardy,” he said.

The breach was allegedly traced to a journalist who had learned of the CIA officer’s identity and his role in the Abu Zubaydah case from Kiriakou, and passed the information on to a Guantanamo defense counsel.

The Justice Department also said Kiriakou was the source of information in a New York Times story in June 2008 that referenced the CIA officer’s role in the Abu Zubaydah case. The complaint alleges that Kiriakou also disclosed the identity of a covert CIA officer in a pair of emails to a journalist in July and August 2008, identifying him as a “team leader” of a certain operation.

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff

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