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Page last updated at 10:52 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 11:52 UK

Profile: John Durham

John Durham, the prosecutor tasked with investigating whether CIA officers or contractors broke laws while interrogating terrorism suspects overseas, is known as publicity-shy, but dogged and successful.

File photo of John Durham
John Durham is a veteran prosecutor with a reputation for tenacity

When appointed by US Attorney General Eric Holder, he was already working on a complex national security case - the investigation into the CIA's destruction of interrogation videos in 2005.

"During the course of that investigation, Mr Durham has gained great familiarity with much of the information that is relevant to the matter at hand," Mr Holder said.

Mr Durham is a career Department of Justice prosecutor who built his reputation pursuing organised crime cases in Connecticut.

He was appointed by then-Attorney General Janet Reno in 1999 to investigate alleged collusion between the FBI, police and organised crime groups in Boston - a case that resulted in the conviction of a retired FBI agent and inspired the Oscar-winning film The Departed.

He also oversaw the case against former Connecticut Governor John Rowland, who was convicted for accepting gifts from people doing business with the state and not paying taxes on them.

'Formidable'

US media reports say he is a registered Republican, though he is also described as nonpartisan. They also describe him as a devout Catholic who is driven by a strong sense of morality.

Friends and colleagues paint a picture of a formidable, dogged investigator, respected for his integrity.

"He's not afraid to bring a tough case and he's not afraid to close a case that people want to bring to trial if the evidence doesn't support it," Kevin O'Connor, the former Connecticut attorney general, told the New Republic magazine recently.

"I've never met a person who cares less about what people say about him."

H James Pickerstein, a former chief assistant US attorney who hired Mr Durham in the 1980s, told the Washington Post last year that the prosecutor relied on a "good versus evil" vision of the world while leading the investigation of Mr Rowland.

"John is a dedicated prosecutor who sees things in absolute terms," he said.

In a profile from 2001, a defence lawyer told the Hartford Courant newspaper: "You underestimate Durham at your own peril."

Mr Durham's job for now is to conduct a preliminary probe, before recommending to Mr Holder whether to proceed with a full investigation.

It is an unusually sensitive, high-profile case. But if Mr Durham's track record is anything to go by, he is not one to shrink before the task.



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