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Former CIA officer John Kiriakou (right) accompanied by his attorney leaves Federal Court in Alexandria.
Jacquelyn Martin/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 1/25/2013
Nevertheless, Kiriakou and his supporters insist he fits the mold of an honorable whistleblower persecuted for exposing wrongdoing. On Wednesday, Kiriakou's portrait was unveiled at the popular Washington restaurant Busboys and Poets, where it will be part of a traveling exhibition and hang alongside portraits of the Dalai Lama and Gandhi.
More than 2,000 people have signed an online petition asking President Barack Obama to commute Kiriakou's sentence. The petition calls Kiriakou "an American hero." It credits him with exposing CIA torture and says he is the only person going to jail in connection with the CIA's enhanced interrogation program.
Jesselyn Radack, one of Kiriakou's lawyers, acknowledged that Kiriakou's initial statements to the public about waterboarding and torture were ambivalent. But she said he became more and more adamantly opposed to torture as years went on, and that the CIA became more and more irritated with him.
She said the government's explanation that it prosecuted Kiriakou only because of what was found at Guantanamo is belied by the fact that Guantanamo detainees were found in possession of multiple photographs of covert officers, and leaks that were traced back to others were never prosecuted. She said leaks that carry the government's tacit blessing, like those that informed filmmakers' research for the film "Zero Dark Thirty," which documents the CIA's hunt for Osama bin Laden, were never pursued.
Most aggravating, she said, is that of all the people who were implicated and exposed in the scandal surrounding the government's use of torture in the war on terror, Kiriakou is the only one going to jail, and he never tortured anyone. In fact, he explicitly turned down offers from his CIA superiors to be trained in so-called enhanced interrogation.
"If John had tortured anyone, I'm confident he never would have been prosecuted," Radack said.
Kiriakou, of Arlington, was a CIA veteran who played a role in the agency's capture of al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in 2002. Abu Zubaydah revealed information that led to the arrest of "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla.