WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in Virginia charged a former United States intelligence analyst with providing classified information to a reporter, according to unsealed court documents.
Daniel Everette Hale, 31, of Nashville was arrested Thursday morning and was expected to make an initial appearance in federal court in Nashville. He was charged under the Espionage Act and with theft of government property. The Espionage Act is a World War I-era law that criminalizes the disclosure of potentially damaging national security secrets to someone not authorized to receive them.
Mr. Hale’s case is the latest example of the Justice Department’s efforts to find and prosecute officials who provide reporters with sensitive information, an aggressive approach dating to the George W. Bush administration. The number of leak cases accelerated under President Barack Obama, and the heightened pace has continued under President Trump.
Prosecutors said that in 2013, while Mr. Hale was enlisted in the Air Force and assigned to the National Security Agency, he began communicating with a reporter. Details in the indictment suggest the reporter worked for The Intercept, a news website. This is the third case in which someone was prosecuted after providing the media outlet with classified information.
Mr. Hale met with the reporter multiple times and communicated using encryption. Prosecutors said that Mr. Hale left the Air Force and was then assigned to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, where he worked as a political geography analyst.
At the agency, prosecutors said, Mr. Hale printed 36 documents from his Top Secret computer. Mr. Hale provided at least 17 of them to the reporter and The Intercept, which published the documents in whole or in part. Eleven of the published documents were marked as Top Secret or Secret, prosecutors said. The documents appear to be used in Intercept reporting about the military’s use of drones.
According to the indictment, in August 2014, Mr. Hale’s cellphone contact list included information for the reporter, and he possessed two thumb drives. One thumb drive contained a page marked “secret” from a classified document that Mr. Hale had printed in February 2014. Prosecutors said Mr. Hale had tried to delete the document from the thumb drive.
The other thumb drive contained Tor software and the Tails operating system, which were recommended by the reporter’s online news outlet in an article published on its website regarding how to anonymously leak documents.
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