A former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer who was charged with repeatedly leaking classified information pleaded guilty in a US court Tuesday to disclosing the identity of an undercover agent to a journalist.
John Kiriakou, who was among the first within the American government to go public with details about the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques, will be sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in a plea deal with prosecutors.
Kiriakou, 47, had claimed he was not guilty when the charges were disclosed in January. However, in court papers released Tuesday, he said that he revealed the CIA agent’s name in an email to a journalist in 2008.
As part of the plea deal, Kiriakou avoids a trial in which he would have faced additional leak and false statement charges.
He becomes only the second person convicted of violating a law that made it illegal to disclose the identities of undercover intelligence agents.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the investigation of Kiriakou began in 2009 when authorities discovered that detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba possessed photographs of CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) personnel.
Eventually, the FBI concluded that Kiriakou gave the name of a covert agent to a reporter, who then passed it on to a private investigator working for the lawyer of a Guantanamo detainee.
Kiriakou, author of the book “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror,” worked for the CIA from 1990 to 2004 and is credited with helping in the capture of senior Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan.
According to an indictment, Kiriakou lied when he submitted a draft of his manuscript to the CIA in 2008 and claimed an investigative technique he discussed in the book was fabricated.
His guilty plea closes one of six prosecutions the Obama administration has brought against alleged leakers of classified information, the Associated Press said.
A criminal filing by the Justice Department earlier this year suggested that Kiriakou was a source for stories by the New York Times and other news organizations in 2008 and 2009 about some of the agency’s most sensitive operations after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.