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Former CIA Officer Indicted for Sharing Classified Data with Journalists

John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer from 1999 to 2004, was indicted on Thursday for allegedly disclosing classified information to journalists. The restricted disclosure included the name of a covert officer and information related to the role a CIA employee played in classified operations.

His indictment comes following an investigation that was triggered by what the Department of Justice is calling a “classified defense filing” back in January 2009.

The filing in question reportedly contained classified information the defense had not been given through official government channels, and, in part, by the discovery in spring 2009 of photographs of certain government employees and contractors in the materials of high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Kiriakou is said to have revealed a covert CIA employee’s name while he was still on assignment, and revealed the name and contact information of a second CIA employee who participated in an operation to capture Abu Zubaydah in 2002. Later, the employee named by Kiriakou appeared in a June 2008 front-page story in The New York Times disclosing their role in the Abu Zubaydah operation.

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The indictment charges Kiriakou with one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act for allegedly illegally disclosing the identity of a covert officer and with three counts of violating the Espionage Act for allegedly illegally disclosing national defense information to individuals not authorized to receive it. The indictment also charges him with one count of making false statements for allegedly lying to the Publications Review Board of the CIA in an unsuccessful attempt to trick the CIA into allowing him to include classified information in a book he was seeking to publish.

Kiriakou, 47, of Arlington, Virginia, is free on bond and will be arraigned on April 13. The count charging violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, as well as each count of violating the Espionage Act, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and making false statements carries a maximum prison term of five years. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.