Defending Rights & Dissent stands with Daniel Hale, a courageous and heroic whistleblower.
Earlier this afternoon, Hale pled guilty to one count of “retention and transmission of national defense information” in violation of the Espionage Act. Hale was charged with four counts under the Espionage Act and one count of theft of government property. While Hale pled guilty to one of the five counts, the government has yet to dismiss the remaining four counts.
Hale’s crime is exposing the human rights abuses of US drone strikes, including that during a given time period nearly 90% of those killed by drone strikes were not the intended target.
Whistleblowers charged under the Espionage Act have an almost impossible chance of mounting a fair defense, which is why Defending Rights & Dissent has repeatedly urged Congress to amend this draconian and antiquated law. Had Hale gone to trial he would have been barred from even uttering the word whistleblower, fairly explaining his actions, or how they were in the public interest.
When Hale was first charged, Defending Rights & Dissent organized a statement in support of this brave whistleblower. The statement was signed by over 50 organizations, as well as journalists, free press advocates, whistleblowers, civil society leaders, and even former military and intelligence professionals. This outpouring of support demonstrates the wide swath of people who understood the importance of what Hale did and the cost of our government’s continuous abuse of the Espionage Act.
It is outrageous that a law ostensibly designed to target spies and saboteurs is used to jail journalists’ sources and even journalists who act in the public interest to reveal official abuses of power.
Hale’s case spans three administrations, including presidents from both major parties. Espionage Act abuse to prosecute whistleblowers is a bi-partisan disgrace.
It is well past time that the United States government ended this shameful practice. Biden’s Department of Justice must cease prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act. And Congress must amend the Espionage Act to prevent his type of abuse.