Slideshow: Eight Whistleblowers Charged Under the Espionage Act

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John Kiriakou

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou leaves US District Courthouse in Alexandria, VA, in October 2012 after pleading guilty, in a plea deal, to leaking the names of covert operatives to journalists. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for giving journalists the names of two former colleagues who interrogated detainees using harsh practices including waterboarding. Kiriakou became central to the debate surrounding interrogation tactics in 2007 after an interview on ABC News. By then, he had left the CIA and was working at the auditing firm Deloitte. “Like a lot of Americans, I’m involved in this internal, intellectual battle with myself weighing the idea that waterboarding may be torture versus the quality of information that we often get after using the waterboarding technique, and I struggle with it,” he said in his ABC interview. He suggested that our country should abandon the technique because “we’re Americans and we’re better than this.”

After the interview, Kiriakou was asked to leave Deloitte but became a source for other journalists investigating torture. Over the course of the next year he gave the name of one former colleague to a freelance reporter and gave the name of another former colleague to a reporter for The New York Times. He pleaded guilty in October 2012 to the leak made to the freelancer; the charge related to The New York Times was dropped.

In January 2013, Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Through various op-eds and essays, he has continued to question his conviction.

John Light is a reporter and producer for the Moyers team. His work has appeared at The Atlantic, Grist, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, Vox and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. He’s a graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @LightTweeting.

Lauren Feeney is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and multimedia journalist whose work has appeared on air and online at PBS, Al Jazeera English and other outlets. A former producer for Moyers & Company, she was a contributor for PBS’ Need to Know and led web teams for Wide Angle and Women, War & Peace. She is a graduate of Bard College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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