To his defenders former CIA officer John Kiriakou is a whistleblower who revealed the use of torture on terror suspects, but the government says that when he leaked the identity of a covert agent he was motivated by ego and money, seeking to “raise his media profile”.
In a deal with prosecutors Espionage Act charges were dropped and Kiriakou became only the second person ever convicted under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Also part of the deal was a prison sentence of 30 months instead of the eight years he faced under sentencing guidelines.
Supporters who signed a letter to President Obama asking that the sentence be commuted include NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake and Government Accountability Project director Jesselyn Radack who were seated in the courtroom today.
WaPo story here.
Arguing that that a reporter’s direct testimony about his source, in this case former CIA agent Jeffrey Alexander Sterling who has been charged under the Espionage Act of sharing classified information with NYT reporter James Risen, is important in obtaining a conviction despite a strong circumstantial case, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Welch told the judge ”I hate to use this example, but I think we all know the difference, given what happened in Florida three days ago.”
Seeking to quash the subpoena for Risen’s testimony, his lawyer, Joel Kurtzberg told Judge Brinkema, “A reporter should be a last resort, not a first resort.” “They have an interest in law enforcement,” he said. “We have an interest in freedom of the press and ensuring that information flows to reporters.”
The defendant in the case, Jeffrey Sterling, is seated second from left in the above drawing.
Politico’s Josh Gerstein has the story (from which I lifted the quotes-thanks Josh!) here.
NSA computer specialist Thomas Drake, shown above with his attorneys in court this morning, was facing felony charges under the Espionage Act for sharing information about the spy agency’s awarding of the billion dollar Trailblazer program to an outside contractor.
After Judge Richard Bennett ruled that some of the allegedly classified documents Drake is accused of taking home would have to be shown to the jury the government’s case crumbled, and Drake was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.
Baltimore Sun story here.