That Thursday, June 8, 2000, the Greek-American John Kyriakou left his home in the northern suburbs of Athens to go to work.
In his case, the term “job” takes on another dimension, as Kyriakou is officially the Second Secretary of the American Embassy.
Unofficially though, he is one of the CIA staff members on the top floor of the embassy, tasked with hunting down terrorists from Arab countries passing through Athens, recruiting informants and dismantling the 17N terrorist organization.
He watches out a lot, goes and returns from work through different routes, is always armed and drives an armored BMW.
What he doesn’t know that day is that because of his neighbor Steven Saunders, the 17N terrorists who were watching the British Brigadier General’s house have also targeted him.
This morning in June, the sun is shining and Kyriakou is driving slowly on Kifissias Avenue, which is congested in the morning.
He is unaware that a few hundred meters behind him, in a white Rover, his neighbor -he was a military attache at the British embassy- is also going to work.
After one or two minutes, five shots -four from the historic 45mm “17N” and one from the G3 rifle- fatally injure Saunders, who manages to open his door just to fall onto the asphalt covered in blood.
The executors are two, riding an motorcycle and immediately after the hit they quickly overtake the armored BMW of the Greek-American agent and leave.
When Kyriakou arrives at the Embassy, he recognizes his neighbor’s car and immediately feels that “17N” is written all over this execution.
Intuition turns into certainty and many questions when the terrorist organization sends after the first, a second manifesto with clarifications regarding the murder of Saunders on December 11, 2000, in which there was, among other things, the following phrase:
“Immediately in front of the traffic light was a traffic jammed American armed CIA high ranking officer, while about a hundred meters behind us was Vardinogiannis with his armed escort”.
Kyriakou has goosebumps. He understands that he has been targeted by “17N” but wonders how the terrorists have been informed of his status as a CIA operative.
Almost twenty years after that hot summer day that changed his life, the former spy spoke about his targeting by the notorious terrorist organization and his activities within the US Central Intelligence Agency.
In an interview with the famous actor Jared Leto, John Kyriakou reveals that he was drafted into the CIA by a professor at the university, that he traveled to more than 65 countries around the world, but also that he caught Al Qaeda’s No. 3 Abu Zubaydah.
He describes what he did when he revealed the CIA’s secret torture program after he left the service and the persecution he suffered.
Leto had met Kyriakos when he was a student at the High School, shortly before the latter left the teacher’s seat to immerse himself in the murky world of espionage.
“I swore to protect the US Constitution, not the dirty secrets of the Service, and that’s what I did”, the former agent says at one point in the interview.
He moved to Iraq after graduation, a country where nothing happened until the day Saddam decided to invade Kuwait in the early 1990s.
Since then, he has almost always been at the forefront, serving in “hot” countries for the United States and proving to be an outstanding in convincing people to betray their country…
He explains that some did it for money, others because they wanted their children to study in America and one he will never forget, because he wanted a new Vespa!
He proved to be very good at it, but he paid dearly for revealing the US torture program, something his former bosses never forgave him for.
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