After Tuesday’s hearing, one of Kiriakou’s lawyers said he was a whistleblower. Jesselyn Radack, an expert on whistleblower issues with the Government Accountability Project, said it was an outrage that Kiriakou will serve jail time. She was glad, though, that the charges under the Espionage Act — which she characterized as vague and overbroad— were dropped.
She said Kiriakou was motivated to take the plea by the fact that he has five children and wanted to ensure he would be out of prison in time to see them grow up.
She said Kiriakou deserves to be considered a whistleblower because the name he revealed to a journalist was an individual involved in the CIA’s rendition program, which Radack said engaged in torture. More broadly, she said Kiriakou became a strong voice against waterboarding and other torture tactics.
Prosecutors dispute the notion that Kiriakou was any kind of whistleblower. In court papers, they said the investigation of Kiriakou began in 2009 when authorities became alarmed after discovering that detainees at Guantanamo Bay possessed photographs of CIA and FBI personnel who had interrogated them. The investigation eventually led back to Kiriakou, according to a government affidavit.
The papers indicated prosecutors believed Kiriakou leaked the name to a journalist, who subsequently disclosed it to an investigator working for the lawyer of a Guantanamo detainee.