John Kiriakou, 47, appeared in federal court Monday in Alexandria, Va., and was arraigned on charges that he disclosed the identities of two covert CIA officers and other classified information “on multiple occasions between 2007 and 2009,” according to a Justice Department statement.
“Safeguarding classified information, including the identities of CIA officers involved in sensitive operations, is critical to keeping our intelligence officers safe and protecting our national security,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement.
Mr. Kiriakou, who retired from the CIA in 2004, was one of the first former U.S. officials to openly discuss the use of waterboarding by the CIA in its interrogation of suspected senior al Qaeda terrorists.
The Red Cross considers waterboarding to be torture, although senior officials in the George W. Bush administration ruled that it could be lawfully employed.
Open government advocates immediately condemned the prosecution of Mr. Kiriakou, saying it would have a chilling effect on the news media’s ability to report in the public interest.
“Too often, without leaked information, there is no information,” said Steven Aftergood, head of the Government Secrecy Project at the Federation of American Scientists.
“The public had a right to know” the information Mr. Kiriakou is accused of leaking, Mr. Aftergood said.
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