July 27 (UPI) -- Former intelligence analyst Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison on Tuesday for illegally obtaining classified national defense information and sharing it with a reporter.
Hale, 33, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to retention and transmission of national defense information, the Justice Department said in a statement.
While enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and assigned to the National Security Agency and later as a contractor at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Hale printed classified documents related to drone warfare and gave them to a reporter.
Among them were eleven documents marked top secret or secret that were ultimately published by the reporter which showed that reliance on drone strikes was undermining intelligence gathering and nearly 90% of people killed in drone strikes during a five-month stretch of an operation in Afghanistan were not the intended targets.
Hale's lawyers stated the disclosures offered a valuable public service. During a hearing Tuesday, Hale said what he shared "was necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs."
"I believe that it is wrong to kill, but it is especially wrong to kill the defenseless," Hale said.
Prosecutors said Hale put U.S. security at risk for selfish reasons, noting he began taking classified information home shortly after beginning work at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in 2014.
"Hale did not in any way contribute to the public debate about how we fight wars," Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg said. "All he did was endanger people who are doing the fighting."
U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady said during the sentencing that Hale's disclosure of the documents went beyond his "courageous and principled" stance on drone warfare.
"You are not being prosecuted for speaking out about the drone program killing innocent people," O'Grady said. "You could have been a whistleblower ... without taking any of these documents."