Joseph Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest Communications, just finished serving a four year prison sentence which he feels is part of a broader government retaliation for his refusal to go along with illegal NSA spying in 2001.


During a 2001 meeting between Nacchio and the NSA, where he believed government contracts were to be discussed, officials asked for access to Qwest’s systems in order to monitor its customers. Nacchio refused to comply, backed by company lawyers pointing out the glaring legal infringements.

Immediately after his official refusal, Mr. Nacchio claims Qwest lost unrelated government contracts it otherwise would have won. In addition, federal authorities soon launched an insider trading probe investigating the CEO’s sale of Qwest stock in 2001. The insider trading charge is what led to his prison sentence. During his trial, the presiding judge refused to allow evidence to be entered that was related to the claims of government retaliation.

The material was considered classified, and his judge refused requests to allow the evidence in trial. Reports from The Washington Post on evidence that has been made public on his case since that time seem consistent with the CEO’s claims.

“I never broke the law, and I never will,” Nacchio told the WSJ.

Nacchio says he feels “vindicated” by the headlines regarding NSA spying thanks to the trove of documents leaked by Edward Snowden.