March 31 (UPI) -- A former intelligence officer and military service member pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally obtaining and sharing classified national defense information with a reporter.
Daniel Everette Hale, 31, entered the guilty plea in response to charges that he provided more than a dozen classified documents to a reporter that were later published by the reporter's online news outlet while working as a cleared defense contractor for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
"Hale has now admitted what the evidence at trial would have conclusively shown: that he took classified documents from his work at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency [NGA], documents he had no right to retain and that he sent them to a reporter, knowing all along that what he was doing was against the law," Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said.
Court records showed that Hale began communicating with a reporter while enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and assigned to the National Security Agency beginning in April 2013.
While in communication with the reporter Hale used his Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance to print 36 documents from his Top Secret computer.
Of those documents, 23 were unrelated to his work at the NGA and he provided at least 17 to the reporter and/or the reporter's outlet, which published them in whole or in part.
Hale pleaded guilty to charges of retention and transmission of national defense information and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.