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Tribeca Features Film on John Kiriakou

NEW YORK – This year’s Tribeca Film Festival features the documentary Silenced, about the fate of whistleblowers, including John Kiriakou, whose15-year tenure with the CIA included accolades for leading the team that captured al-Qaeda’s Abu Zubaydah. After leaving the agency, he spoke out against the practice of waterboarding to ABC News in 2007. On January 25, 2013, Kiriakou, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for what he calls his accidental violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. “I am 100 percent positive,” he told TNH, that the sentence he is serving at Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto in Western Pennsylvania, is payback for his public statements about waterboarding. Just before the screening on April 19, Kiriakou’s wife Heather and his sister Tina sat down with TNH to talk about the plight of their loved one – and how Greek-Americans can help. Asked when she first realized that her husband was in trouble, Heather said: “I first became aware something serious was happening when the FBI showed up at my door.” John had left that Thursday morning for a meeting with the FBI, which was not unusual, since he often helped them with cases. Heather was home on maternity leave and when she opened the door “they told me to step aside, that they had a search warrant and I could go somewhere to nurse our newborn.” She stepped aside, her maternal instincts causing her to clutch her eight week-old son as about 12 federal agents invaded the home the couple had built for their family in Arlington, VA, a pleasant Washington, DC suburb. Their finances shattered by legal bills and Kiriakou’s inability to earn an income, they are tenants in a modest house near the one they hope to save by renting it to others. “They labeled every room with a number, started taking pictures and asked where John’s electronics were. I pointed them in the direction of our home office and everyone scrambled upstairs.” Their other children were at school. “I remember being very thankful about that,” she said. They were there for several hours and eventually hauled away her husband’s computer, his iPad and his mother’s computer. When Heather protested that every single photo of their life together and of their family was on the computers, they said blithely, “oh you’ll get it back one day.” She did, but “only after fighting and fighting and fighting.” After Kiriakou raced home that night, they didn’t have to say a word, knowing from the looks on their faces that something terrible was going on. Tina was listening quietly to the story of her brother’s nightmare, but could not hold back any longer. “The sad thing is they don’t just try to see if you’ve done something and then prosecute, they want to ruin you and crush you down to nothing,” she said. Then she turned to her sister-in-law and said, “By Heather’s strong will alone, she has kept everything afloat…they had to go on welfare and they want to break you so hard that they want you just to give up from exhaustion. “It’s heartbreaking when you find out what our government does to people.” She and her husband, Spiro Moulis, who was with her in New York, have made the 12-hour drive from Manchester, NH to the prison twice. She bursts into tears of sadness “and of relief…that I could see with my own eyes that he is ok.” “Fortunately,” Heather noted, “John has been trained to survive and adapt to very horrible environment. He says ‘I’ve served my country in a lot worse places,” and Tina added “that’s what he said from the beginning. He said ‘don’t worry about me; worry about my family, the kids, that’s the saddest part. The kids are growing up without the father.” Kiriakou and his sister were born in Sharon, PA. They have a brother, Emmanuel, who lives in Los Angeles and their parents were educators. Heather is Kiriakou’s second wife, and all together he has five children. Heather also has a small town background, born and raised in Oxford, OH. She dreamed of going to Washington, DC to study foreign affairs, which she did as an undergraduate and graduate student at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. She also proudly served her country working for the U.S. Government. DAY OF ACTION: MAY 9 Kiriakou is striving to be released to a halfway house near his wife and children as soon as possible. He is first eligible to be released on May 1, 2014, but has been told it will happen no earlier than February 3, 2015, just three months before the end of his sentence. Kiriakou had hoped for nine months and was promised six by the warden as part of a deal for him to stop publishing his Letters from Loretto, his communications that range from a description of life in prison to social commentary that have been published in newspapers and online. There is “Day of Action” planned for May 9 on Capitol Hill. The Kiriakous’ cousin Clifford Reese, who is called Kip, is organizing it and has reached out to the offices of members of Congress who sit on the judiciary and appropriations committees relevant to his case. “Participants will go to their congressmen’s offices and ask staff to tell their boss to call the head of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) asking for John’s immediate release to a halfway house,” Heather said. Readers can obtain information on the web site: defendjohnk.com. Asked what she would like to convey to Greek-Americans she said, “just how proud John is of his heritage and his hopes that people he doesn’t even know will support him and his family as he gets through this and back on his feet. He has no doubts that as he moves forward to recover his life that he will make Greek-Americans proud.” People can also help Kiriakou’s family financially. There are still crushing legal bills to be paid. Donors can visit defendjohnk.com. where money can be donated through the Government Account Project. They can also buy his book The Reluctant Spy, that tells of his career in government service. “I will mail the book to them and John will send a personal letter of thanks and gratitude,” Heather said. Tina said that “John gets about 40 letters per week and writes back to every single person. Those letters are every bit as important as the donations or buying a book…the words of kindness inspire him to keep going and keep getting up every day.” She and her husband are active in the small Church of St. Nicholas in Manchester, and Tina told TNH of a lady in her 80s who attends the Greek Orthodox Church in Canonsburg, PA. “Every Sunday she lights a candle for John at church and sends him the bulletin. One of the hardest things for John in prison is that he doesn’t get to go to church each Sunday, and he’s always gone every Sunday. He is not allowed to have communion, or an icon. All these things have hurt him to the core.”

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