Man Who Leaked Drone Details Sentenced To Prison

( A 33-year-old former analyst for a U.S. intelligence agency was sentenced to spend almost four years in jail.

Daniel Hale pleaded guilty in March to one count of violating the Espionage Act. He leaked classified information about the country’s drone strike program to various media outlets.

He was originally arrested back in May of 2019 for multiple, detailed leaks to a reporter who was unnamed at the time. It turned out to be a reporter for the media outlet the Intercept, Jeremy Scahill, who has been publicly critical of America’s overseas military activities.

On Tuesday, Hale received his sentence of 45 months in prison, in front of U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. The judge said the actions Hale took went past his “courageous and principled” stance on drones. The Washington Post reported the judge saying:

“You are not being prosecuted for speaking out about the drone program killing innocent people. You could have been a whistleblower … without taking any of these documents.”

In 2013, Hale printed 36 documents from a “Top Secret” computer he had. Those included 23 other documents that weren’t related to his work. At the time, he was working for the Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as a defense contractor.

On March 31 of this year, the Department of Justice released a statement saying Hale gave 17 of those documents to either Scahill directly or to the media outlet he worked for. Eleven of the documents that were published were labeled either as “Top Secret” or “Secret.”

On Tuesday, Hale said he thinks “it is wrong to kill, but it is especially wrong to kill the defenseless.” He was therefore justifying his actions, saying they were “necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs.”

In court, Hale’s lawyers tried to paint their client as a whistleblower who was attempting to bring attention to a wrong that was being committed. On the flip side, the prosecution accused Hale of being selfish when he leaked the documents.

In court, Gordon Kromber, an assistant U.S. attorney, said:

“Hale did not in any way contribute to the public debate about how we fight wars. All he did was endanger the people who are doing the fighting.”

Hale asked the judge directly for leniency, sending him a handwritten letter that read:

“I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keep [sic] us safe, and when I finally left the military, still processing what I’d been a part of, I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong.

“The answer came to me, that to stop the circle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person. So, I contacted an investigative reporter with who I had had an established prior relationship, and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.”