Former CIA officer gets 30 months in prison

Friday, January 25, 2013 - 8:00pm

A former CIA officer who pleaded guilty to identifying a covert intelligence officer was sentenced on Friday to 30 months in prison.

John Kiriakou and prosecutors agreed on the term as part of the plea deal last October.

Kiriakou, 48, declined to make a statement at the Alexandria, Virginia, federal court prior to sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema.

"Alright, perhaps you've already said too much," Brinkema said.

She rejected defense attempts to characterize Kiriakou as a whistle-blower.

The judge was bound by the plea agreement, but said she would have handed down a tougher sentence had Kiriakou been convicted at trial.

"This case is not a case about a whistle-blower. It's about a person who betrayed a very solemn trust," Brinkema said.

Defense attorney Robert Trout said during the sentencing hearing that Kiriakou did not intend to harm anyone or his country.

Trout described Kiriakou as "really thoughtless and really naïve" in not realizing that he would lose control of the information once he divulged it.

"He was concerned about certain practices that were employed in the fight against terrorism," said Trout, referring to enhanced interrogation techniques such as water-boarding.

Kiriakou had initially defended those practices, but Trout said his views "had evolved."

The lawyer said his client spoke to reporters in an effort to keep the spotlight on the topic.

Federal prosecutor Mark Schneider had a different view.

"The defendant acted out of a sense of ego and narrow-minded self-interest to raise his media profile," Schneider told the court.

Kiriakou pleaded guilty in October only to intentionally identifying an undercover CIA officer.

He also admitted to other allegations, including illegally telling reporters the name of a different CIA employee involved in a 2002 operation to capture alleged al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah, and lying to a review board about a book he was writing. But those charges were dropped as part of his plea deal.

The charges arose out of communications Kiriakou had with two journalists between 2007 and 2009.

Schneider said Kiriakou also discussed the identities of other CIA employees, despite signing multiple non-disclosure agreements which he was bound to honor even after he left the CIA.

Kiriakou served as a CIA intelligence officer from 1990 to 2004.

Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said Kiriakou had endangered the life of a covert officer and "exposed our nation's vital secrets."

Kiriakou emerged from court on Friday, saying he was "positive, confident and optimistic."

He did not take questions from reporters but thanked supporters, including those who have signed a letter to the White House asking that his sentence be commuted.

The judge is allowing Kiriakou to surrender to authorities at a later date to serve his sentence.

Charges against Kiriakou followed an investigation that began when lawyers for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, issued a court filing with classified information not provided by the government.

A probe found that defense lawyers got the information from a journalist, who got it from Kiriakou, the Justice Department said.


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