An ex-CIA officer who helped track down and capture a top al-Qa'ida figure was charged on Monday night with disclosing secrets, including the role of one of his associates on that covert mission, in the latest of a series of US prosecutions of suspected leakers.
John Kiriakou, 47, is charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and the Espionage Act. A federal judge ordered his release on a $250,000 unsecured bond.
According to the authorities, Kiriakou divulged to three journalists, including a New York Times reporter, the role of "Officer B", who worked with him on the capture of suspected al-Qa'ida financier Abu Zubaydah in the months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times, and his case has been highlighted by those who believe the interrogation technique should be outlawed. Kiriakou's public discussions of Zubaydah's waterboarding were a key part of the debate. In a separate accusation, Kiriakou is alleged to have disclosed the identity of a covert operator to a journalist.
Authorities say that journalist then gave the officer's name to defence lawyers representing a suspect the US held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. When the lawyers included information about the officer in a legal brief in 2009, the CIA became suspicious and the government began to investigate.