[JURIST] The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] has sentenced former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] agent John Kiriakou, who was among the first to disclose information to the public about the CIA’s use of waterboarding [JURIST report] and other interrogation techniques, to thirty months in prison [judgment, pdf] for intentionally disclosing information identifying a covert agent. Kiriakou was the first person in 27 years to be convicted for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act [Cornell LII backgrounder], which criminalizes the disclosure of information that identifies covert agents. The indictment [text, pdf] against him states that in various emails throughout 2008 and 2009, Kiriakou identified two covert agents involved with the capture and interrogation of al-Qaeda operative Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein (also known as Abu Zubaida) [BBC profile] to journalists.
The CIA has faced a number of legal challenges in the past year. Last month, the High Court of England and Wales refused to allow [JURIST report] a legal challenge to the possible role of the UK’s spy agencies in aiding CIA unmanned drone strikes [JURIST news archive] in Pakistan. This was in response to a Pakistani citizen who sued [JURIST report] the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office [official website] in order to discover the extent and lawfulness of UK government aid to US drone strikes in Pakistan. In October, JURIST guest columnist Douglas Cox opined that the CIA should respond [JURIST op-ed] to the National Archives inquiry into the CIA’s destruction of detainee interrogation tapes in order to prevent any further destruction of important records. In September, JURIST Guest Columnist Tung Yin argued that Attorney General Eric Holder should have given some explanation [JURIST op-ed] for his decision to refrain from prosecuting any suspects after spending years investigating the CIA’s abuse of interrogation methods that led to the deaths of at least two detainees. Earlier that same month, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] heard arguments [JURIST report] on whether to grant a Freedom of Information Act [5 USC § 552] request by the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] to obtain information from the CIA on its use of unmanned drones. Also in September, the Italian Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian] upheld the convictions [JURIST report] of 23 former CIA officers for the 2003 kidnapping and rendition [JURIST news archive] of Egyptian terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr.