ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AFP) - Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was sentenced Friday to two and a half years in prison for leaking the name of a secret agent implicated in harsh interrogations of Al-Qaeda suspects. Kiriakou, 48, pleaded guilty before a federal court in October to having knowingly disclosed the name of an undercover CIA agent to a freelance reporter, as part of a plea bargain to avoid trial. Prosecutors argued that Kiriakou betrayed the Central Intelligence Agency and compromised the security of fellow agents, while supporters have hailed him as a whistleblower who exposed harsh interrogation techniques widely viewed as torture.

"Thirty months is way too light," Judge Leonie Brinkema said sternly as she handed down the sentence.

"This is not a case of a whistleblower. It is about a person who betrayed a very solid trust."

Had the sentence not been recommended by the prosecution, the judge said she would have imposed a harsher penalty. The 30-month prison term is to be followed by three years of supervised release.

US President Barack Obama's administration has prosecuted six current and former government officials for leaking information - more than all other previous administrations combined - with critics accusing the White House of using anti-spying laws to go after those who expose government malfeasance.

At the same time, the White House has been accused of deliberately leaking information that burnishes its national security credentials, including details of the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the Stuxnet cyber-attack on Iranian nuclear facilities and the expanded drone program.