April 13th, 2012
03:20 PM ET

Former CIA officer pleads not guilty to sharing classified info

By Carol Cratty 

A former CIA officer entered a not guilty plea on Friday to charges he gave classified information to reporters and lied to a CIA review board about material in a book he wrote.

John Kiriakou was arraigned at U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, on a five-count indictment and his trial is scheduled to begin November 26.

The charges against him include three counts under the Espionage Act alleging Kiriakou revealed national defense information to individuals not authorized to receive it - namely reporters. One count charges Kiriakou violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in 2008 by identifying a covert agent referred to as Officer A in the indictment.

Kiriakou also is accused of revealing to reporters the name and contact information of an analyst known as Officer B, who was involved in the 2002 operation which resulted in the capture of alleged al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah. Zubaydah is one of three detainees the CIA later admitted waterboarding during interrogations. A government report revealed the simulated drowning technique was used on him 83 times. Zubaydah has yet to be charged by the U.S. government and is incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A CIA review board goes over all books and other writings by former or current CIA employees to guard against any disclosure of classified material.

Kiriakou worked for the CIA from 1990 to 2004. He and a co-author wrote a book called "The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror." According to the indictment, Kiriakou lied when he submitted a draft of the manuscript to the CIA in 2008 and claimed an investigative technique discussed in the book was fabricated.

The court document quotes an e-mail Kiriakou sent to his co-author, who was not named in the indictment, which said in part, "I said some things were fictionalized when in fact they weren't. There's no way they're going to go through years of cable traffic to see if it's fictionalized, so we might get some things through."

Kiriakou was indicted April 5. The Justice Department said the charges resulted from an investigation into how pictures of U.S. employees and contractors ended up in the cells of high-value detainees at Guantanamo bay. Kiriakou allegedly revealed information to a reporter who passed it on to an investigator for the detainees' defense team.

According to the Justice Department, the defense team then obtained surveillance photos of government employees. Those pictures were given to detainees to see if they could identify people involved or present at the time of their interrogations.

"There are no allegations of criminal activity by any members of the defense team for the Guantanamo Bay detainees," according to a Justice Department press release.

Kiriakou, 47, was initially charged in a criminal complaint in January. He remains free on bond pending trial. During his Friday arraignment he spoke only when the judge asked him whether he understood he was agreeing to waive his right to a speedy trial and that he was obligated to appear at future hearings and his trial.

The former CIA officer and his lawyers refused to answer reporters' questions after the hearing. Kiriakou faces a maximum of 45 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

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Filed under: Author • CIA • Detainees • Gitmo
soundoff (33 Responses)
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  18. A bystander

    I think there are a couple of issues here worth exploring... One is the over classification and the nearly reflexive nature that governments hide what they are doing from everyone but especially their citizens. The other is the real need for security to prevent a potential adversary from gaining an advantage. With billions spent since 911, i sometimes wonder if the investment will prevent another intell failure like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Downfall ofthe Soviets, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, 911, or WMD in Iraq. Would increased scrutiny improve the process and reduce the cost? Was there a real breach in this manuscript? These authors are obviously on someone's bad side or were not high enough to be authorized to leak.

    April 15, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  19. alysshearteowyn

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    April 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  20. dreamer96

    This guy e-mailed the co-author of the book and made a statement like that...unbelievable...what he thought nobody was reading his e-mails, and he worked at the CIA????? I had a DOD TS clearance, and I find that so unbelievable.....but that history is full of some pretty unbelievable things.....like the 12 groups and individuals that tried and failed to warn the US government about the 911 attacks....looking back they all were so close...each had a little piece of the puzzle rolling around in their heads..driving them crazy trying to make sense of the big picture...

    April 15, 2012 at 10:58 am | Reply
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  22. j. von hettlingen

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    April 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Reply
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      April 15, 2012 at 1:50 am | Reply
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    April 14, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Reply
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      April 14, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Reply
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  26. Lee Oates

    Yet another attempt by America's secret government to hide the facts from the Amerian people.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Reply
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      Business as usual.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:46 am | Reply

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