The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Dylan Blaylock,202.408.0034 ext. 137,

Congressman Calls on President Obama to Pardon CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou


This week, Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) took to the floor of the House of Representatives and called on President Obama to pardon CIA whistleblower and Government Accountability Project (GAP) client John Kiriakou.

"Mr. Kiriakou is an American hero," Rep. Moran said in a moving speech chronicling Kiriakou's contributions to the country, including Kiriakou's "outstanding work in the always-demanding intelligence world" and whistleblowing activities. Rep. Moran elaborated, "John Kiriakou is a whistleblower, as well. The first American intelligence officer to officially and on-record reveal that the U.S. was in the torture business as a matter of White House policy under President [George W.] Bush."

Kiriakou is one of eight people the Obama administration has prosecuted under the Espionage Act for alleged mishandling of classified information, more than all past presidential administrations combined. Faced with incurring millions in legal fees and up to 45 years away from his wife and five children, Kiriakou pleaded guilty in October 2012 to one charge and received a 30-month prison sentence. The government dropped all four of the remaining criminal counts, including all charges brought under the Espionage Act.

Jesselyn Radack, GAP National Security and Human Rights Director and Kiriakou's attorney, stated:

"John Kiriakou is the only CIA officer to go to prison in connection with the George W. Bush-era illegal torture program, and Kiriakou refused to participate in torture and helped expose it publicly. If John Kiriakou had tortured detainees instead of blowing the whistle on torture, he would be free. The President should do everything in his power to correct such a perverse outcome."

While whistleblowers risk Espionage Act charges by telling the public about government misconduct, high-level government officials regularly leak classified information favorable to the government without consequences. The hypocritical double standard in so-called leak prosecutions was not lost on Rep. Moran, whose statement included a stinging condemnation of the selective prosecution of Kiriakou:

"The real issue here is the extremely selective prosecution of John and the ongoing efforts to intimidate him from talking about our intelligence community's misfires. Even former CIA Director Leon Panetta now concedes he accidentally revealed classified information to the writer of Zero Dark Thirty, but faces no legal ramifications. Jose Rodriguez, the CIA's former head of the Clandestine Service, admits to deciding without any legal authorization to erase videotapes of torture sessions so they could never be used in U.S. courts, but has never been forced to answer for this destruction of evidence."

Kiriakou's conduct since beginning his prison sentence in February 2013 speaks to his courage. Kiriakou has continued to speak out about injustice through "Letters from Loretto" published on, despite pressure from the government to stop writing.

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.