by Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams:
“Using the Espionage Act in this way to prosecute journalists’ sources as spies chills newsgathering and discourages sources from coming forward with information in the public interest.”
Press freedom, peace, and human rights advocates are rallying behind Daniel Hale, the former intelligence analyst who blew the whistle on the U.S. government’s drone assassination program, and who pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to violating the Espionage Act.
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The Washington Post reports Hale, who was set to go on trial next week, pleaded guilty to a single count of violating the 1917 law that has been used to target whistleblowers including Julian Assange, John Kiriakou, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Jeffrey Sterling, Reality Winner, and others.
Hale was charged in 2019 during the Trump administration after he leaked classified information on the U.S. government’s targeted assassination program to a reporter, who according to court documents, matches the description of The Intercept founding editor Jeremy Scahill. He is the first person to face sentencing for an Espionage Act offense during the admnistration of President Joe Biden.
As vice president under President Barack Obama, Biden contributed to the creation of whistleblower protections in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, while simultaneously serving in an administration that, while promising “a new era of open government,” relentlessly targeted individuals who revealed U.S. war crimes and other classified information.
Outrageous that drone whistleblower Daniel Hale will be going to prison for exposing the drone murders by the US military. Why don’t the murderers go to jail? Or the ones who ok the murders? Or the ones who make the killer drones and profit from murder? https://t.co/bD6kXP26Gp
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) April 1, 2021
Kiriakou—a former CIA agent who under Obama was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment for exposing U.S. torture—told Kevin Gosztola that he is “dissapointed that Daniel Hale’s case was continued in the Biden Justice Department.”
“I had hopes that Biden’s Justice Department appointee would recognize the public service that Daniel Hale provided when he revealed illegality and abuse in the drone program,” said Kiriakou.
Hale, who was an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Air Force before moving on to the National Security Agency and then the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, “knowingly took highly classified documents and disclosed them without authorization, thereby violating his solemn obligations to our country,” according to a statement from Raj Parekh, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.