John C. Kiriakou, a former CIA officer and outspoken opponent of waterboarding, was indicted Thursday for leaking classified secrets to journalists, according to The Associated Press.
Kiriakou's indictment is one of a half-dozen similar cases opened during President Obama's administration. The Justice Department is cracking down on government officials who are leaking classified information.
During a 2007 interview with ABC, Kiriakou called waterboaring "unnecessary." He felt it was appropriate to use the controversial form of interrogation in the months after the September 11 attacks and that it had proven effective to break down Abu Zubaydah. Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. By 2007 Kiriakou felt the interrogation method was not longer called for, saying, "(W)e were really trying to do anything that we could to stop another major attack from happening. I don't think we're in that mindset right now. ... and, as a result, waterboarding, at least right now, is unnecessary."
Kiriakou later said that he was not present during Zubaydah's interrogation. He testified to the Senate that Zubydah's waterboarding did not yield any significant intelligence. That claim contradicted the Bush administration and the CIA's claims about waterboarding.
Jesselyn Radack is the national security and human rights director for The Government Accountability Project. She said the Justice Department is punishing a whistleblower by using a law that is intended to prosecute spies. She feels Kiriakou is being targeted specifically for speaking against the use of waterboarding.
Radack told The Associated Press, "Back when no one was saying anything, back in 2007 when we were arguing about the validity of waterboarding, he was the only CIA official to say waterboarding was torture."
Kiriakou, 47, was arrested in January. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia on Thursday. He currently faces five counts. Four counts of violating either the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act. Each count is punishable by up to ten years. He also was chargd with making false statements, which has a maximum sentence of five years.
Kiriakou, who is free on bond, is scheduled to be arraigned April 13 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Kiriakou's attorneys declined to comment on Thursday. Plato Cacheris, one of Kiriakou's attorneys, said in January that the charges against his client criminalized routine conduct between journalist and government sources.