US whistleblower sentenced to 45 months in prison amid outcry from human rights activists

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this undated AP photo provided by the Nashville Police Department is Daniel Hale, who was convicted of leaking government secrets about the US military drone program.

US intelligence analyst Daniel Hale has been sentenced to 45 months in prison over leaking classified information about drone warfare to the press.

The 33-year-old was sentenced due to disclosure of national defense and intelligence information, exposing the civilian casualties caused by deadly drone srtikes.

According to an online petition aimed at preventing persecution of the whistleblower, he has “dared speak the truth.”

“He has been an outspoken peace and human rights activist, attempting to warn the public about the abuses and dangers of unchecked drone warfare. Hale is a whistleblower who has enriched the public’s knowledge about matters of grave civic concern,” read the petition. “It is unconscionable to use a law supposedly aimed at actual spies and saboteurs, against individuals who act in good faith to bring government misconduct to the attention of the public.”

The documents Hale leaked showed the drone program was not as precise as the US government claimed when it comes to avoiding civilian deaths.

“(A)s a result of Hale’s actions, the most vicious terrorists in the world obtained documents classified by the United States as “Secret” and “Top Secret” — and thought that such documents were valuable enough to disseminate to their own followers in their own manuals,” the prosecutors wrote. “He committed the offense to bring attention to what he believed to be immoral government conduct committed under the cloak of secrecy and contrary to public statements of then-President Obama regarding the alleged precision of the United States military’s drone program.”

Hale has said he was motivated by the sense of guilt caused by his role in the drone strikes that often lead to civilian casualties in countries such as Afghanistan.

The US has been heavily cracking down on whistleblowers exposing atrocities in the US military and intelligence.

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