Former CIA officer pleads guilty to identifying covert agent

A former U.S. intelligence officer with a long history at CIA headquarters and the agency’s Counterterrorism Center pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., to a single count of disclosing information identifying a covert agent.

He faces a 30-month federal prison sentence and $250,000 fine under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

John C. Kiriakou, a CIA officer from 1990 to 2004, was charged in April with unmasking the 20-year covert agent to a Washington journalist who then shared that information with defense lawyers for terrorist detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He had also been awaiting trial on separate charges that he disclosed to two journalists the name and contact information for a CIA analyst and his undercover work in capturing Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah. Those charges were dropped in return for the guilty plea.

The 47-year old Kiriakou had served as both an intelligence officer at CIA headquarters as well as in various classified overseas assignments. He held a top secret security clearance and had regular access to national defense information. Years ago he signed a secrecy agreement and acknowledged that should he reveal certain sensitive information it could “constitute a criminal offense.”

James W. McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, called Kiriakou’s actions “a clear violation of the law.”

In an 11-page statement of facts signed by Kiriakou, he confessed that he also lied to FBI agents trying to track down the leaks, and feigned surprise when told that defense lawyers for the detainees now knew the identity of the CIA covert officer.

“Oh, my God. No,” he told the FBI. “Once they get names, I mean, this is scary.”

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