US charges ex-intel analyst with leaking classified documents

Authorities say Daniel Everette Hale obtained and disclosed information about military campaigns against al-Qaeda.

    A police vehicle blocks an entrance into the National Security Administration (NSA) facility in Fort Meade, Marylan [File: Gary Cameron/Reuters]
    A police vehicle blocks an entrance into the National Security Administration (NSA) facility in Fort Meade, Marylan [File: Gary Cameron/Reuters]

    A former government intelligence analyst has been charged with leaking classified documents about military campaigns against al-Qaeda to a reporter.

    Daniel Everette Hale, 31, of Nashville, Tennessee, was arrested Thursday morning and will make an initial appearance at the federal court there, authorities said.

    An indictment in Alexandria, Virginia, charges him with five counts including obtaining and disclosing national defence information and theft of government property. Each of the counts carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, the Justice Department said. 

    According to the indictment, Gale worked as an intelligence analyst for the Air Force and later as a contractor assigned to the government's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

    The indictment says Hale began communications with a reporter in 2013 while at the Air Force and continued communications after going to NGA.

    According to the indictment, Hale provided 11 Top Secret or Secret documents to the reporter and his online news outlet. Those documents were later published either in whole or in part.

    They include a secret memo outlining a military campaign against al-Qaeda overseas, a top-secret intelligence report on an al-Qaeda operative, and a secret PowerPoint slide "outlining the effects of the military campaign targeting Al-Qaeda overseas", according to the indictment. 

    190422212653050

    Court papers do not identify by name the reporter who allegedly received the leaks, but details in the indictment make clear that Jeremy Scahill, a founding editor of The Intercept, is the reporter who received the leaks, the Associated Press reported. NBC News also reported, citing federal officials, that the reporter was Scahill and the news outlet was The Intercept. 

    Published in 2015 article

    The indictment states that many of the classified documents were disclosed in an October 2015 news article.

    On October 15, 2015, Scahill published an article on The Intercept titled "The Assassination Complex" that relies on "a cache of secret slides that provides a window into the inner workings of the US military's kill/capture operations at a key time in the evolution of the drone wars".

    The story says the documents "were provided by a source within the intelligence community who worked on the types of operations and programmes described in the slides. The Intercept granted the source's request for anonymity because the materials are classified and because the US government has engaged in aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers." 

    180823153915686

    Scahill's book, Dirty Wars, was published in 2013, and the indictment indicates Hale and Scahill met while Scahill was promoting the book at a Washington, DC, bookstore. The book reported on the use of drones to attack and kill targets, among other things.

    The indictment states that Hale listed his work with drones on kill and capture operations on his resume and quotes Hale in a text message to a friend stating that Scahill "wants me to tell my story about working with drones."

    According to the indictment, Hale and the reporter used an encrypted messaging service called Jabber to communicate throughout 2013 and 2014.

    Scahill did not immediately return an email seeking comment Thursday.

    Last year, Reality Winner, a US government contractor was sentenced to more than five years in prison after pleading guilty to mailing classified reports to The Intercept. 

    SOURCE: News agencies