Former Senate staffer pleads guilty to revealing spy's identity

A former CIA officer and Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer pleaded guilty on Tuesday to revealing the identity and activities of an American spy.

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John Kiriakou pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally divulging the identity of a covert CIA agent to a member of the press, and agreed to serve 30 months in prison.

The Justice Department (DOJ), which brought the case against Kiriakou, lauded the plea agreement as a successful milestone in its larger effort to crack down on leaks within the U.S. government’s intelligence and national security arenas.

“The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement. 

“Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger.”

Kiriakou’s guilty pleas comes two weeks before Election Day. Republicans have begun to hammer President Obama again for not preventing sensitive information leaks about U.S. security operations that appear to have originated from senior sources within the government.

Kiriakou admitted to revealing the classified identity of a veteran CIA agent to a journalist, who then shared that confidential information with an attorney defending high-value detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison. 

The DOJ stated that it has not brought any allegations of criminal misconduct against any of those defense attorneys.

In a separate instance, Kiriakou also acknowledged that he passed secret information to a reporter from The New York Times about the identity of a CIA analyst and his work on a mission to capture Abu Zubaydah, a suspected terrorist currently being held in Guantanamo.

Kiriakou, who worked for more than a year as an investigator for Sen. John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 25, 2013.