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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ex-N.S.A. Big Indicted in Newspaper Leak Case

BALTIMORE (CN) - A former senior National Security Agency official was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of leaking hundreds of e-mail messages full of classified information to a reporter at a national newspaper. Thomas Drake also was accused of obstructing justice by shredding documents, removing computer records and misleading investigators examining the reporter's sources.

According to the charges out of Maryland District Court, Drake sent classified and unclassified information to an the reporter at an unnamed "national newspaper," who wrote and published articles between 2006 and 2007.

"The United States had never authorized Reporter A to receive classified information, and Reporter A did not have a United States government security clearance," according to the indictment. "Moreover, at no time did the United States ever authorize Reporter A to possess classified documents or information on a personal computer or in a personal e-mail account."

The indictment says Drake copied and pasted information from the agency's documents into unmarked Word documents, which he then printed out and distributed without classification markings.

The NSA is responsible for providing Signals Intelligence to U.S. policy-makers and military forces to gather foreign intelligence necessary to national security.

"Many, if not all, of NSA's ... programs were classified," the indictment states.

Drake was a high-ranking NSA official, starting in 2001 and continuing until his resignation in 2008.

During that time, Drake "held a Top Secret security clearance," and his positions "within NSA also afforded him access to classified documents and information concerning NSA's [security] programs." He's charged with 10 counts, including retention of classified information, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

Media advocacy groups, meanwhile, decried the indictment, saying it could negatively impact reporters and sources in the future.

Drake, 52, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the retention counts.

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