May 10 (UPI) — Federal authorities said they arrested a former Air Force intelligence analyst Thursday for collecting classified national defense information and turning it over to a journalist.
Daniel Everett Hale was arrested in Nashville, Tenn., and was expected to appear in U.S. district court later Thursday. An unsealed indictment doesn’t specify who Hale, 31, gave information to.
The charges include 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, the U.S. Justice Department said. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors say Hale received language and intelligence training during his time in the Air Force, between 2009 and 2013. He was assigned to work at the National Security Agency and deployed to Afghanistan as an intelligence analyst. He also worked at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as a defense contractor after leaving the Air Force. In both jobs, he had access to classified information.
“While enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and assigned to the NSA, Hale began communicating with a reporter,” prosecutors said in a statement. “Hale met with the reporter in person on multiple occasions, and, at times, communicated with the reporter via an encrypted messaging platform.”
The department said Hale took information from the NGA in 2014 that ended up in a report by the journalist, and that Hale possessed two thumb drives with information from a classified document.The journalist was given 11 classified documents, prosecutors said.
James Risen, director of First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund, said Hale’s arrest is an abuse of the Espionage Act.
“Everyone who cares about press freedom should reject the government’s outrageous crackdown on whistle-blowers, 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,” Risen said in a statement.