The CIA Spy Who Became a Russian Propagandist
Kiriakou worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for more than two decades, where he made his career recruiting potential spies. It’s a job that requires charm, salesmanship, and manipulation. (“You have to convince people that you love them, even if you don’t,” he told me.) Later, he worked on counter terrorism in Pakistan, where he tracked and then briefly guarded an imprisoned Al Qaeda leader by the name of Abu Zubaydah.
Kiriakou left the agency in 2004 and spent the next three years working in the private sector. In 2007, when rumors about “advanced interrogation techniques” began to circulate, he went on ABC News and confirmed, on live television, that Zubaydah was tortured by the CIA.
Kiriakou points to that moment as the beginning of the unraveling.
The Justice Department cleared him of any crimes associated with giving that interview. (Kiriakou said he didn’t realize he was misstepping.) But within five years, he was accused of another crime: disclosing a spy’s identity to a journalist. He was sentenced to thirty months in federal prison, becoming the first CIA officer convicted of passing classified information to a reporter.