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Ex-CIA terrorism analyst charged with classified leaks

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John Kiriakou (ABC News)

The Justice Department has charged a former CIA counter-terrorism analyst with revealing classified information to journalists, including the identity of a covert U.S. intelligence interrogator.

"John Kiriakou, a CIA intelligence officer from 1999 to 2004, illegally divulged information about two CIA employees and their involvement in classified operations between 2007 and 2009, the Justice Department said in a statement," CNN reported.

Kiriakou, 47, is being charged on two counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protect Act, "for allegedly illegally disclosing the identity of a covert officer," the Justice Department statement said, according to CNN. The covert officer whose identity was allegedly divulged was described in this report.

Kiriakou made headlines when he claimed in a 2007 interview that the controversial simulated drowning interrogation technique known as "water-boarding" had gotten a senior al-Qaida operative to break in 35 seconds.

"From that day on, he answered every question," Kiriakou told ABC News' Brian Ross in December 2007, referring to Abu Zubaydah. "The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks."

But formerly classified Justice Department memos released in 2009 showed that Zubaydah was in fact subjected to water-boarding 83 times in August 2002, as first noted by the  New York Times. And it further emerged that Kiriakou was not actually present during the water-boarding of Zubaydah, as he implied. The controversial interrogation technique has since been banned by the Obama administration.

"In return for the secrecy we need to do our work, the American people and our elected representatives expect us to uphold our nation's laws and values," CIA Director David Petraeus said in a statement to CIA employees about the case, that was sent to Yahoo News. While he was unable to discuss the specifics of the case, Petraeus added, he could say, "however, that the CIA fully supported the investigation from the beginning and will continue to do so."

Kiriakou worked in 2007 as a consultant by ABC News, the New York Times' Brian Stelter reported in 2009. He was hired in 2009 as a deputy investigator to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He left the committee in March 2011, a Senate source said.

He was due in court in Alexandria, Virginia Monday afternoon.

You can read the Justice Department complaint here.

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