US Drone Whistleblower Sentenced To 45 Months Over Leaks To Journalist

US Drone Whistleblower Sentenced to 45 Months Over Leaks to Journalist

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 28th July, 2021) A US Federal judge sentenced former US intelligence analyst and whistleblower Daniel Hale to nearly four years in prison for leaking top secret information to a journalist, the Justice Department said on Monday.

Hale was arrested in 2019 for leaking classified information that revealed US drone strikes had killed innocent people during operations in the middle East.

"A Tennessee man was sentenced today to 45 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for illegally obtaining classified national defense information and disclosing it to a reporter," the Justice Department said in a press release.

US District Judge Liam O'Grady reportedly told Hale he was prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act, not for speaking out about the drone program.

"You are not being prosecuted for speaking out about the drone program killing innocent people," the judged said as quoted by The Washington Post. "You could have been a whistleblower ... without taking any of these documents."

Hale during the hearing said it was especially wrong "to kill the defenseless." He also said the leak "was necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs.


Edward Snowden in a tweet on Tuesday called Hale "one of the great American whistleblowers," whose crime was telling the truth.

The release did not identify the journalist or the news outlet, but the correspondent is reportedly Jeremy Scahill, a founding editor of the Intercept.

Hale, 31, of Nashville, Tennessee, served as an enlisted airman in the US Air Force from July 2009 to July 2013. After receiving language and intelligence training, Hale later worked as an intelligence analyst for a defense contractor at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA).

Hale started communicating with the journalist in April 2013 while enlisted in the Air Force and assigned to the National Security Agency, the release said. In February 2014, while working at the NGA, Hale printed six classified documents unrelated to his work, which were later published by the journalist's news outlet, the release added.

The news outlet published 11 classified documents that had been provided by Hale, the release said.