A former intelligence analyst was charged by the US Department of Justice for leaking secrets information about the US global drone programme including targeted assassinations in Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan.
Former analyst Daniel Everette Hale was charged with the theft and disclosure of sensitive government information in Alexandria, Virginia.
Hale, who was arrested in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday morning, faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted of leaking classified information on the targeted assassination of individuals in Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan.
The indictment did not name the publication or journalist, but the description appeared to match that of Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept. The information was published in an eight-part series titled “The Drone Papers” by the online news organization The Intercept in 2015.
The Intercept’s editor-in-chief Betsy Reed stated the organization does not comment on anonymous sources, but she said, “These documents detailed a secret, unaccountable process for targeting and killing people around the world, including US citizens, through drone strikes. They are of vital public importance. ”
Reed also criticized US President Donald Trump’s administration for following in the footstep of former President Barack Obama’s administration in prosecuting leaks by using “the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who enable journalists to uncover disgraceful, immoral, and unconstitutional acts committed in secret by the US government.”
Hale, 31, worked as an intelligence analyst for the US Air Force in Afghanistan, where he was assigned to the National Security Agency (NSA) from 2009 to 2013. During that time he was involved in numerous drone strikes.
After leaving the Air Force Hale was employed at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). NGA is a key intelligence agency in the US.
Hale is accused of having met and delivered information to Jeremy Scahill, one of The Intercept’s founding editors, during his year at NGA. Scahill wrote the 2013 book “Dirty Wars,” which critically outlined the Obama administration’s expansion of the US global drone program.