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The New Political Prisoners: Leakers, Hackers and Activists

John Kiriakou


John Kiriakou
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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WHO: John Kiriakou, 48

THE CRIME: John Kiriakou is a former CIA agent who led the team of agents that found Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in 2002. He was also a frequent source for journalists covering national security. Kiriakou emailed the name of a covert CIA officer to a reporter; the reporter never published the officer's name.

PROBLEMS WITH THE CASE: Kiriakou has been hailed by human rights groups for identifying the U.S. government's use of waterboarding as torture in a 2007 interview with ABC News. He is the most high-profile in a number of cases the Obama administration has brought against people for leaking information to the media. These cases form a pattern that could have a chilling effect on other government workers who want to expose government misdeeds.

THE PUNISHMENT: Kiriakou pleaded guilty last year and received a sentence of two and a half years in prison in January. No one involved in creating and overseeing the brutal techniques he discussed has gone to prison. As a fellow former CIA officer told The New York Times in January, "The irony of this whole thing is, very simply, that he's going to be the only C.I.A. officer to go to jail over torture."


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