Ex-CIA officer Kiriakou 'made peace' with leak decision
- 28 February 2013
- From the section US & Canada
A former CIA officer sentenced to 30 months in prison has told the BBC he has made peace with his decision to leak a covert officer's name.
John Kiriakou says he believes the case was about larger human rights issues.
He is the first person convicted of identifying a covert agent in 27 years.
Defence lawyers argued that Kiriakou's actions - giving a journalist the name of a former CIA officer alleged to have taken part in waterboarding - were those of a whistleblower.
Kiriakou, 48, is set to begin the prison term on Thursday.
"I feel oddly optimistic about the coming two years," he told the BBC in an interview. "I feel very much at peace with my decision to go public on the torture issue."
Kiriakou, a CIA officer from 1990-2004, led an operation that captured Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaeda financier.
Zubaydah was allegedly subjected to waterboarding - simulated drowning - 83 times during interrogation.
The investigation into Kiriakou's leak began after lawyers for suspected terrorists filed a legal brief that included details not provided by the government.
FBI investigators followed the trail back to Kiriakou and arrested him in January 2012, according to court records.
Prosecutors said that in 2008 the former officer leaked the name of a covert operative to a journalist, who subsequently disclosed it to a researcher working for the lawyer of a Guantanamo detainee.
When asked why he decided to leak the name, he told the BBC: "My case was not about leaking - my case was about torture."
"This is a case about civil liberties and human rights," he said. "Somebody needs to take a stand. I am very proud to have had a role in that."
Kiriakou pleaded guilty in October to disclosing classified information identifying a covert agent. A deal with prosecutors limited his sentence to 30 months. Several other charges were dropped.
"It was a crime," he said. "I had no intent to violate the law. I think it was my whistle-blowing that led to this sentence."
Prosecutors argued Kiriakou was merely seeking to increase his fame and public stature by trading on his insider knowledge. He later worked as a consultant for a US news network and published a book about his time at the CIA.
Kiriakou says he will spend his time in prison exercising and writing, but intends to use the attention the case has afforded him afterwards.
"The justice department has made me a hero in the human rights community," he said. "I intend to use this notoriety."