Monday, January 23, 2012

Former CIA Officer, HuffPo Contributor, Charged With Violating Espionage Act

John Kiriakou, left, and his attorney John Hundley, leave
federal court in Alexandria, VA. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Source: The Guardian (UK)
January 23, 2012 - Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was arrested and accused of leaking classified information to reporters.

The Justice Department today charged Kiriakou, 47, with leaking classified information to reporters repeatedly, "including the identity of a covert officer and details about the capture of terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah," the U.S. Justice Department said.

The Justice Department's actions agains Kiriakou, notes Don Grandoni at The Atlantic Wire, is "the second time this month the agency is sending the message that it doesn't like its ex-agents to be talking to reporters." However, added Grandoni, "the leaks do involve the identities of two CIA officiers."

A federal grand jury charged Kiriakou with one count of violating the Intelligence Agencies Protection Act, two counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of lying to the CIA about his actions.

NBC reported today that Kiriakou surrendered to the FBI this morning. "In an initial court appearance in Alexandria Monday afternoon," wrote NBC's Michael Isikoff, "Kiriakou waived a preliminary hearing and was released on a $250,000 bond after surrendering his passport and agreeing to stay in the Washington area and not to contact any witnesses in the case. His lawyer, Plato Cacheris, did not immediately respond to a request for comment."

The "Lawfare" blog notes today that Kiriakou, 47, of Arlington, VA, "was a CIA intelligence officer between 1990 and 2004, serving at headquarters and in various classified overseas assignments. He is scheduled to appear at 2 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson in federal court in Alexandria." Lawfare also posted the full criminal complaint against Kiriakou (filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia).

Kiriakou has been a busy journalist himself. In addition to being a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post. According to his bio post at HuffPo, "John Kiriakou is an intelligence and counterterrorism consultant for ABC News and a former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, focusing on the Middle East, South Asia, and international terrorism."

Kiriakou also co-authored a book (with Bruce Riedel and Michael Ruby) called "The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror." In fact, much of what Kiriakou is charge with involves the time during which he was writing it. (See a video interview of Kiriakou about his book at

NBC Washington notes that the U.S. Attorney's office "also said that while Kiriakou was writing his book, he lied to agency investigators in an attempt to secure permission to write about a confidential surveillance technique. Kiriakou wanted to include information about the 'magic box,' a device that could locate any switched-on cell phone, and allegedly told investigators lies about his knowledge of the device and whether or not it was confidential."

Oddly, his bio at HuffPo omits the fact that his tenure with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was actually as an investigator for Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) between 2009 and 2011. It's also odd that his HuffPo bio does not mention that he is one of their own frequent contributors.
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