A former U.S. intelligence analyst was arrested Thursday and charged with providing classified information to several reporters from The Intercept. According to federal officials, the analyst repeatedly met with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill before giving him secret documents detailing the U.S. military’s drone strike operations in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen.
According to the indictment, Daniel Everette Hale was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force from July 2009 to July 2013, during which time he received language and intelligence training. While serving on active duty, Hale was assigned to work at the National Security Agency (NSA) and deployed to Afghanistan as an intelligence analyst.
After leaving the U.S. Air Force, Hale was employed by a defense contractor and assigned to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), where he worked as a political geography analyst between December 2013 and August 2014. In connection with his active duty service and work for the NSA, and during his time at NGA, Hale held a Top Secret//Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS//SCI) security clearance and was entrusted with access to classified national defense information.
In April 2013, Hale reportedly met Scahill at a book signing and began communicating with the reporter through encrypted channels. While working as a cleared defense contractor at NGA in February 2014, Hale printed six classified documents unrelated to his work at NGA and soon after exchanged a series of messages with Scahill. Each of the six documents printed were later published by The Intercept.
Hale allegedly printed 23 documents unrelated to his work at NGA, including several files labeled top secret, and provided at least 17 of those classified documents to The Intercept. After thoroughly vetting the information, The Intercept published most of the documents in order to provide a detailed report of the U.S. government’s assassination program overseas.
Hale has been charged with obtaining national defense information, retention and transmission of national defense information, causing the communication of national defense information, disclosure of classified communications intelligence information, and theft of government property. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
In response to Hale’s arrest on Thursday, James Risen, Intercept reporter and director of First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund, said in a statement: “Like previous prosecutions of alleged journalistic sources, the prosecution of Daniel Everette Hale amounts to an abuse of the Espionage Act to criminalize the process of reporting. Everyone who cares about press freedom should reject the government’s outrageous crackdown on whistleblowers, which accelerated dramatically under President Barack Obama and has escalated further under Donald Trump, targeting the very people who are working the hardest to hold the government accountable for abuses and to protect our democracy.”
According to The Intercept, the news organization refuses to comment on matters relating to the identity of anonymous sources.
In August 2018, a former contractor for the NSA, Reality Winner, was sentenced to five years in prison for leaking classified documents to The Intercept that detailed Russian efforts to hack into the computers of a company that made software for local election officials. She pleaded guilty to one count of felony transmission of national defense information.