Prison officers 'treat us like subhumans', claims former CIA officer convicted of leak
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Friday 31 May 2013
John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer jailed for revealing the name of a covert agent in charge of the US government’s Bush-era enhanced interrogation programme, has claimed he is treated as “subhuman” by wardens at the Pennsylvania prison where he is held.
Kiriakou began serving a 30-month sentence in February, after being convicted of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by e-mailing the name of a covert CIA agent to a freelance reporter, who did not publish the name. He is the first current or former CIA officer to be convicted of leaking classified information.
In a letter to lawyer Jesselyn Radack, published this week on the Firedoglake.com political blog, Kiriakou claims that “in truth” his sentence “is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official US government policy”.
Before he disclosed the name of a covert CIA agent in 2008, Kiriakou, whose prosecution was one of six pursued by the Obama administration in an aggressive campaign against whistleblowers, had helped journalists with information about waterboarding and the CIA interrogation of Abu Zubaydha, a suspected al-Qa’ida operative.
In the letter, he says he was meant to serve his 30-month sentence in a work camp at the facility in Loretto, Pennsylvania, but was deemed a public-safety threat and sent to “the actual prison”.
Kiriakou claims that a corrections officer (CO) had suggested that she call him “Fuckface”. “She stopped me and said, ‘Are you the motherfucker whose name I can’t pronounce?’ I responded “Ki-ri-AH-koo.” She said, “How about if I just call you Fuckface?” he wrote.
He says that “an hour later, four COs descended on ... our cells, trashing all of our worldly possessions in my first ‘shake-down’. Lesson learned: COs can treat us like subhumans ...”
According to Kiriakou, COs also tried to provoke a conflict between him and a Muslim inmate. Days after he arrived, Kiriakou says he was called into the office of the prison’s Special Investigative Service (SIS). There he asked about an Arab man he had met a day earlier. “The CO said this was the uncle of the Times Square bomber, and after we met, he called a number in Pakistan, reporting the meeting, and was told to kill me.”
Later, however, when Kiriakou discovered that the man was an Iraqi Kurd from New York State: “SIS told him that I had made a call to Washington after we met, and that I had been instructed to kill him! We both laughed at the ham-handedness by [which] SIS tried to get us to attack each other.”
No one from the Federal Bureau of Prisons was immediately available for comment.
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