Drone Whistleblower Pled Guilty Because Fair Trial Was Impossible, Lawyer Says


The 1917 Espionage Act — under which Daniel Hale has been charged for leaking details of the US drone strike programme — has long been criticised for its use to suppress free speech during war or even in peacetime, going beyond its original scope.

US drone warfare whistleblower Daniel Hale’s lawyer has said he only chose to plead guilty to espionage charges because the law would not allow him a fair trial.

Hale pled guilty on 2 April to one count of breaching the 1917 Espionage Act for leaking classified information on US drone assassination operations to a journalist, reportedly The Intercept founding editor Jeremy Scahill. His sentencing hearing is set for 13 July.

Hale’s Attorney Jesselyn Radack told CovertAction Magazine Hale “would not have received a fair trial because the arcane Espionage Act does not allow for a public interest defence”.

She warned that “the US government’s policy of punishing people who provide journalists with information in the public interest is a profound threat to free speech, free press, and a healthy democracy”.

Radack herself became a whistleblower when she worked at the Department of Justice in 2001, when she exposed how the FBI’s interrogation of US Taliban recruit John Walker Lindh was unlawful and inadmissible as evidence as he was denied a lawyer.

The DOJ sacked Radack and tried to have her disbarred as a lawyer, and she said she was blacklisted for a time by the legal profession in Washington…

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