News Release

Drone Whistleblower to be Sentenced Today


    Gibbons is policy director with the group Defending Rights & Dissent which has done extensive work in the case of Daniel Hale, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He participated in the U.S. drone program, working with both the National Security Agency and the Joint Special Operations Task Force at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

    Gibbons has said: “Hale’s crime is exposing the human rights abuses of U.S. drone strikes, including that during a given time period nearly 90 percent of those killed by drone strikes were not the intended target.”

    Gibbons said today: “Daniel Hale’s prosecution, like all prosecutions of whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, was a political prosecution. Hale was prosecuted not because he leaked classified information — such leaks are routine in Washington — but by exposing civilian casualties he contradicted official U.S. policy pronouncements about its global assassination program. …

    “The prosecution made it clear that by seeking an unprecedentedly harsh sentence they were seeking to chill other whistleblowers from coming forward to the press. Hale’s disclosures did not damage U.S. national security, but his prosecution damaged U.S. democracy.

    “Hale’s disclosure also included information about the U.S. watch list, which since released, has been used by CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] to challenge the No Fly List. While Hale’s attorneys are requesting a sentence of 12 to 18 months, the prosecution are asking for a sentence of seven to nine years. Such a sentence would be the longest sentence ever given to a whistleblower who gave information to the media in a civilian court. As part of his sentencing, Hale penned a letter to the judge explaining how witnessing the gruesome human cost of drone strikes, as well as Obama’s pronouncements that precautions were taken to protect civilians, led him to seek to expose the true nature of U.S. drone warfare. Prosecutions under the Espionage Act were once rare, but became the norm under the Obama and Trump administrations. The use of the Espionage Act against journalists’ sources has been roundly condemned by press freedom advocates.”

    A copy of Hale’s letter to the judge and other material is available at