A senior CIA analyst resigned Tuesday amid accounts that she had been pressured to step down after her husband — a former agency employee — was charged with leaking classified information to the press.
Heather Kiriakou had served as a top analyst on some of the most sensitive subjects that the agency tracks, including leadership developments in Iran. Her husband, John, faces a maximum of 30 years in prison after being accused of disclosing details about secret CIA operations as well as the identities of undercover officers.
Two sources in direct contact with the Kiriakous said that Heather had submitted her resignation under pressure from superiors at the CIA. She had been on maternity leave in recent months. Neither she nor John Kiriakou returned a phone message left at their home.
“They told her to come in and resign,” said one person with direct knowledge of the Kiriakou case. Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity surrounding Heather Kiriakou’s employment status and the pending prosecution of her husband.
CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood declined to comment, citing “respect for Ms. Kiriakou’s privacy.”
The end of Heather Kiriakou’s CIA career appears to represent the most immediate fallout from the latest case brought by the Obama administration in its campaign to stamp out leaks of government secrets to the press.
John Kiriakou, 47, was charged with four counts that ranged from disclosing classified details about counter-terrorism operations to the press, to lying to the CIA about the origin of sensitive information he published in a book about his career.
Kiriakou, whose CIA career spanned from 1990 to 2004, was depicted in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria as a significant source for articles including a detailed account in the New York Times of the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Kiriakou’s attorney, Plato Cacheris, said he could not publicly discuss details of the case or comment on the employment status of his client’s wife.
The case created an unusual security dilemma for the CIA, turning on whether the career of a senior analyst should continue even when her husband faces charges that he breached his agreement to protect the agency’s secrets.
The charges were outlined in a 26-page complaint that includes extensive detail on Kiriakou’s alleged communications with reporters but offers few hints as to how the e-mails and other evidence were obtained. A spokeswoman for The New York Times said that the newspaper did not furnish any information to investigators.
The complaint also includes what are described as statements that Kiriakou made to investigators during an interview last week, in which he denied being a source for journalists on government secrets. A person familiar with the case said that Kiriakou was not represented by an attorney during that interview, and that he apparently did not know that investigators had already obtained a significant volume of evidence, including e-mail messages sent as far back as 2008.