John Kiriakou, the CIA agent who was jailed for blowing the whistle on the United States' torture program, was released from Loretto Prison in Pennsylvania on Tuesday under orders to finish the remainder of his 30-month sentence at home.
Though glad the whistleblower was finally able to return to his wife and five children, supporters said the development was bittersweet considering that Kiriakou has thus far been the only government official to be punished for U.S. torture.
"John Kiriakou is a dedicated public servant who became a political prisoner because he brought to light one of the darkest chapters in American history: the CIA’s ineffective, immoral and illegal torture program," said Jesselyn Radack, Kiriakou’s attorney and National Security and Human Rights director of the Government Accountability Project.
"Considering that the last three heads of the CIA engaged in leaks of classified information without being charged under the Espionage Act and that no CIA official who ordered or participated in torture has been criminally punished," Radack continued, "it is a welcome development that Kiriakou can serve the rest of his sentence at home with his family."
Kiriakou was prosecuted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act for allegedly revealing classified information about the Bush government's torture program to a reporter. After agreeing to a plea deal in October 2012, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He has 86 days left to serve under house arrest.
Throughout his sentence, Kiriakou chronicled his thoughts and experiences in a series of "Letters from Loretto Prison," which have been published by FireDogLake. On Tuesday, he marked his departure with a final letter detailing all the things he will not miss about being incarcerated.
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Among those 19 items, Kiriakou included: "nosy cops listening to my phone calls;" correctional officers (COs) "harassing my visitors;" waiting days to receive mail, only to have it tampered with; commissary (which he describes as "the single worst experience in prison"); begging the staff for permission to buy stamps; medical; the cafeteria; standing in line; "count time;" and pedophiles.
In the letter, Kiriakou describes the "young power-hungry bullies in their first positions of authority" who staff the prison as well as the fraught conditions at Loretto, which include "unconstitutional overcrowding" and a medical unit under the care of which people die "with terrifying frequency." He also mentioned the Bureau of Prisons mandate to monitor all of his incoming and outgoing email, which he discovered is because of his broad access to the press.
"The justice system is broken in our country," Kiriakou writes. "The current state of the Justice Department and its Bureau of Prisons is something that all Americans should be ashamed of." He adds that he is preparing to write a book on the matter.
"By the time you read this, I’ll be home," the letter concludes. "Now the real work can begin—the struggle for human rights, civil liberties and prison reform."
"I can guarantee you that I am unbowed, unbroken, uninstitutionalized and ready to fight."