And there Burns referred to an interesting precedent: A case from 1986 called Washington Post v. Soussoudis. In that case, the Post successfully argued that it had a right to access to information in a case that revealed the identities of active CIA operatives and assets in Ghana. Burns said that the Soussoudis ruling made it difficult to seal the proceeding without putting the reasons for the sealing on the record. Though he was inclined to do so, he said, "Unfortunately, the Washington Post case is almost right on point. It was a trade of spies. And the court still wasn't satisfied [redacted]."
That's the first indication that a spying case -- Michael Soussoudis, who pleaded guilty to espionage charges, was allowed to return to Ghana in exchange for the release of detained U.S. spies -- has any relevance to Kontogiannis. That's not to say it amounts to proof that Kontogiannis is a spy. But Burns seems to be referencing a factual as well as legal parallel here, which gives a clue as to the nature of the "investigation" Kontogiannis is involved in. As Laura Rozen highlights, Kontogiannis' lawyer, Gregory O'Connell, a former assistant U.S. attorney in New York, rejoindered, "The heightened concern in the context of counter-terrorism has given even greater compelling force to basis for seeking closure under the circumstances." He pointedly notes that Soussoudis is "a pre-9/11 decision." Ultimately the Court sealed the entire case until June; and the specific reasons for that sealing remain, well, sealed.
Laura floats the idea that Kontogiannis is an FBI asset "working as an informant on organized crime cases that, post 9/11, may have assumed some counterterrorism applications." That wouldn't exclude the idea that he has intelligence value, as well -- something Burns' comments have given reason to believe.