Drone whistleblower Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison. It was a severe sentence but not the harshest sentence ever issued in an Espionage Act prosecution against a former United States government employee or contractor for the “unauthorized disclosure” of information.
The sentence was not what U.S. prosecutors demanded. They wanted Hale to go to prison for nine years, but it is likely Judge Liam O’Grady issued a lower sentence after considering his mental health problems.
This case is the first major Espionage Act conviction under President Joe Biden.
Hale was a signals intelligence analyst in the U.S. Air Force, who was deployed to Afghanistan and stationed at Bagram Air Base. He helped track down the “geographic location of handset cellphone devices believed to be in the possession of so-called enemy combatants” so they could be targeted and killed by drones.
He later worked as a defense contractor for Leidos at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), where he decided to release documents on the drone program to journalist Jeremy Scahill.