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Kiriakou writes: "Incarcerated CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling was recently sent to solitary confinement on a bogus and trumped-up charge of threatening a corrections officer."

Jeffrey Sterling. (photo: AP)
Jeffrey Sterling. (photo: AP)

CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Placed in Solitary Confinement

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

02 May 17


ncarcerated CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling was recently sent to solitary confinement on a bogus and trumped-up charge of threatening a corrections officer (CO). According to Jeffrey’s wife, Holly, and a formal complaint that Jeffrey lodged with Bureau of Prisons regional authorities in Colorado, Jeffrey was standing at attention on April 21 for the daily 4:15 count, where all prisoners must stand and be counted, when the situation unfolded quickly.

The following is Jeffrey’s personal account of what transpired. It is edited lightly only for clarity:

“On April 21, 2017, at approximately 4:30 pm, a bed-book count was called during routine count time (daily at 4:15 pm). The north side of the range was called first.” [Author’s note: A bed-book count is when a CO uses a book with names, registration numbers, and photographs of each prisoner to do a comprehensive count. This is an unusual occurrence. I went through only two bed-book counts in my 23 months in prison.]

“My cell is on the south side of the range. Prior to my side being called, I noticed that CO ‘Richard’ [pseudonyms are used here to protect Jeffrey from further retaliation from prison authorities] was walking ahead of the two COs actually conducting the bed-book count. I had never seen the bed-book count conducted in this manner with a CO counting ahead of those actually performing the count.

“Richard, walking ahead of the two COs completing the count, passed directly in front of me. He suddenly stopped and returned to where I was standing for count. He stated that I had messed up his count because I was not standing out far enough and he asked me to move. Upon his request, I stepped out farther, not saying a word. Richard then threatened me with physical violence by stating, ‘Do you want to go? Let’s go. You’re here, so you’re not so tough.’

“I responded to his question/statement by stating that I had stepped forward as requested. Richard repeated the threats of physical violence. I asked if he was threatening me and I asked his name. I was unable to see his name displayed on his shirt because he was wearing what appeared to be a hoodie. Richard did not respond.

“The COs conducting the bed-book count had reached my cell and I provided the requested name and registration number. After count for the range was cleared, I calmly approached Richard as he was exiting and stated that I was merely asking for his name. He did not answer, but stated that I was on ‘Special Time.’ He did not explain what Special Time was. I returned to my cell.”

Jeffrey then says that Richard returned to his cell with another CO and said something about needing him to go with them to “finish this.” Jeffrey writes, “Based on Richard’s threats, and [because] staff at FCI Englewood have completely disregarded that I was threatened with physical violence by a staff member, I am in fear for my safety.

“I responded that he threatened me and that I preferred to speak with a lieutenant. I also explained that I was waiting until general count was cleared to go down to do so. I offered that we could go see the Lieutenant together. He threatened me with a ‘shot’ [a disciplinary infraction] and stated that he’d been doing this for 11 years. I again requested to speak to the Lieutenant. Richard and the other officer left.

“A few minutes later, Richard returned with a different CO. That CO motioned for me to come out of my cell. I stood and said that I had requested to speak with a Lieutenant. The CO responded that ‘no’ was not an option. I put up no resistance and headed for the exit with Richard and the CO behind me. I did not know if I was going to speak with a Lieutenant.

“I entered the ‘compound shack’ where the Lieutenant’s office is located. Richard and the other CO remained behind me as I entered. The foyer area was dark and I did not see a Lieutenant. Neither Richard nor the other CO motioned for me to head to the left hallway where the Lieutenant’s office is located.

“At this point, I again feared for my safety. I once again asked to speak with the Lieutenant. Still behind me, Richard stated, ‘that’s it’ and ordered me to put my hands up against the wall. I was handcuffed and then taken to the Special Housing Unit [SHU].

“The only time I saw a Lieutenant was when ‘Lt. Tatum’ came to my cell to hand me the incident report. Lt. Tatum read me my rights (that I had a right to remain silent and that anything I said could be used against me). After reading the report, I stated that what Richard [reported] was not true. I recounted the events for the Lieutenant, including the threats of physical violence that Richard made. I also stated that I had requested to speak to a Lieutenant several times. I remained in the SHU over the weekend.”

Jeffrey was released from solitary confinement after two-and-a-half days. He was denied medication for his heart condition there, just as he has been for the past six months. And upon his release from the SHU, his telephone and commissary privileges were suspended for 30 days.

This kind of petty harassment is typical, not just for Jeffrey, but for any high-profile prisoner. Barrett Brown was just sent back to prison because he allegedly neglected to ask for permission to speak to a PBS reporter. I was repeatedly threatened with solitary confinement for publishing a blog series from prison. The list goes on.

The shame of the situation is that there is no recourse. Jeffrey Sterling was wronged. He was bullied. His health was jeopardized when he was not given his medication. And there’s nothing he can do about it. Sure, he is appealing to the BOP’s regional office. But the regional office has, technically, 30 days to respond to his complaint. What they normally do it wait months to respond, and then backdate the response to the 30-day mark.

Jeffrey is coming home sometime in the late fall or early winter. In the meantime, we can let the prison administration know that we’re watching them and that we’re concerned and angry about Jeffrey’s treatment. We can complain to Warden Rene Garcia at 303-763-4300 and demand respect for a patriot and whistleblower. Please do it right now.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner
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