Former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst Daniel Hale has been sentenced to 45 months in prison for leaking top-secret information on the U.S. government’s drone strike program. Hale was arrested in 2019 and charged under the Espionage Act. He pleaded guilty in March. Federal prosecutors argued that his actions aided enemies of the U.S. but his defense team argued it didn’t result in any substantial harm to national security.
Hale was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 where he witnessed a drone strike. In a letter read out in court, Hale said that, as time went on, he could feel his heart “breaking into pieces” watching people “in the final moments of their lives.” While his lawyers argued his good intentions should be taken into account, U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady said Tuesday: “You are not being prosecuted for speaking out about the drone program killing innocent people. You could have been a whistleblower … without taking any of these documents.” He was originally facing 11 years in prison.