Former CIA Officer Kiriakou Sentenced for Leak

01.25.13 | 3 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Updated below

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act after he pleaded guilty to one count of identifying a covert agent.

Although the sentence is less than that prescribed by federal sentencing guidelines, the government said that it considers the reduced penalty “reasonable.”

In a presentencing memorandum for the defense, Mr. Kiriakou’s attorneys said that his offense should be seen in the context of his lifelong commitment “to public service and the defense of America’s national security.”

“In the course of his service to the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr. Kiriakou placed himself in harm’s way on countless occasions, earning the CIA’s Exceptional Service Award no fewer than ten times,” the defense memorandum said.

Although Mr. Kiriakou accepted full responsibility for his actions, the defense said that he had been duped into making the unauthorized disclosure that led to his prosecution.

“In 2006, Journalist A told Mr. Kiriakou that he was working on a book about the Abu Omar rendition in Milan. That was false. Journalist A has never published a book on that subject and the defense is aware of no evidence that he was ever working on one.” [But see update below].

“In reality, unknown to Mr. Kiriakou, Journalist A was acting as a private investigator on behalf of lawyers representing terrorist detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was forwarding the information he received from Mr. Kiriakou, as well as information he received from many other individuals, to another private investigator working with the detainees’ lawyers. Mr. Kiriakou now realizes that he made a very serious mistake in passing any information to Journalist A, but he would not have done so had he known how Journalist A would make use of that information,” the defense memorandum said.

The defense noted that “Mr. Kiriakou has fully and forthrightly accepted responsibility for his actions and recognizes the seriousness of the crime to which he has pled guilty.  Yet while many will never know Mr. Kiriakou apart from this prosecution, the incident that led to this moment cannot undo the reality of Mr. Kiriakou’s life in full– a life dedicated to the values of freedom, decency, public service, and love of country.  As the government concedes, although Mr. Kiriakou’s crime was unquestionably serious, he was never motivated by any desire to harm the United States, national security, the CIA’s critical mission abroad, or any individual person.”

A petition asking President Obama to pardon Mr. Kiriakou or commute his sentence has already been signed by thousands of supporters.

After Vice Presidential aide Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury in connection with the unauthorized disclosure of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame in 2007 and sentenced to 30 months in jail, his sentence was promptly commuted by President George W. Bush.

Update: Although the Kiriakou defense team said it knew of no evidence that Journalist A was working on a book about rendition, Josh Gerstein noted that there is such evidence here and here.