(WASHINGTON) — A former CIA operative serving a prison sentence for revealing a covert officer’s identity has penned a detailed letter about his new, complex life behind bars.
John Kiriakou pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 months in a low security prison in Loretto, Penn., in January for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, but as he did before he went away, he said in the letter that that’s only what the government wants people to believe.
“In truth, this is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official U.S. government policy,” he writes. “But that’s a different story.”
Instead of expanding on the controversy that brought him into the world’s spotlight, Kiriakou spends a majority of the six-page letter describing his day-to-day life behind bars, from his own tiny cell to an almost anthropological study of the lunch room and the relatively rare prison fights.
“Violence hasn’t been much of a problem since I arrived,” the letter says. “There have been maybe a half-dozen fights, almost always over what television show to watch…Otherwise, violence isn’t a problem.”
Kiriakou said that he was especially safe because “a rumor got started that I was a CIA hitman.”
The former officer also described a bizarre incident in which he claimed a prison security official tried to trick him and an Arab prisoner into attacking each other.
The letter, sent to Kiriakou’s attorney Jesselyn Radack, was first published online by The Dissenter blog. Radack told ABC News she released the letter with Kiriakou’s permission because “it might bring attention to the way he’s being treated.”
A spokesperson for the prison declined to comment on any specific allegations but told ABC News that all accusations of staff misconduct are taken seriously and investigated.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Susan Scutti, CNN
Eliza Mackintosh, CNN
Ian Kerner, CNN