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US government leak crackdown snags ex-CIA officer

By Matthew Barakat

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 23 2012 4:03 p.m. MST

Since leaving the agency, Kiriakou has also worked as a consultant and on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to his LinkedIn profile. He earned a bachelor's degree in Middle Eastern studies in 1986 and a master's degree in legislative affairs in 1988, both from George Washington University in Washington.

The Justice Department's campaign to prosecute leakers has been particularly aggressive in recent years. This is the sixth criminal leak case opened under the Obama administration and the second involving a former CIA officer and the Times. Federal prosecutors in Alexandria claim Jeffrey Sterling divulged classified information to Times reporter James Risen about CIA efforts to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. Sterling's trial has been delayed while prosecutors appeal several pre-trial rulings, including the judge's decision to effectively quash a government subpoena demanding that Risen testify.

Prosecutions under the Espionage Act have been particularly contentious. Opponents say the law can be used to unfairly target those who expose government misdeeds. The law was used, for instance, to charge Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers case, and a grand jury has been investigating whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be prosecuted for the mass of disclosures by WikiLeaks that were allegedly fostered by leaks from Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.

"Safeguarding classified information, including the identities of CIA officers involved in sensitive operations, is critical to keeping our intelligence officers safe and protecting our national security," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "Today's charges reinforce the Justice Department's commitment to hold accountable anyone who would violate the solemn duty not to disclose such sensitive information."

In light of the indictment, CIA Director David Petraeus reminded his agency's employees of the essential need for secrecy in their work.

"When we joined this organization, we swore to safeguard classified information; those oaths stay with us for life," he said "Unauthorized disclosures of any sort — including information concerning the identities of other agency officers — betray the public trust, our country, and our colleagues."

Associated Press writers Ben Fox in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Brett Zongker in Washington contributed to this story.

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