Former NSA executive accused of leaking classified information

A federal grand jury has indicted a former National Security Agency senior executive on 10 felony counts related to sharing classified information with the media, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.

The indictment alleges that Thomas A. Drake, a high-ranking NSA employee from 2001 through 2008, served as a source in 2006 and 2007 for newspaper articles about the intelligence agency. The indictment claims that some of the information he disclosed was classified. It does not name the newspaper, but The Washington Post has reported that it was The Baltimore Sun.

Also included in the indictment are specific references to hundreds of e-mails exchanged containing classified information. "As alleged, this defendant used a secret, nongovernment e-mail account to transmit classified and unclassified information that he was not authorized to possess or disclose," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said. "As if those allegations are not serious enough, he also allegedly later shredded documents and lied about his conduct to federal agents in order to obstruct their investigation."

Drake was trained on handling confidential information within the NSA and signed documents acknowledging procedures for approval before disclosing information, according to the indictment. Drake was never authorized to declassify, copy or print classified information, the Justice Department said.

The indictment contains five counts of willfully retaining classified documents, one count of obstruction of justice and four counts of making false statements to FBI agents investigating the case. If found guilty, Drake could face up to 10 years in prison for keeping classified documents, 20 years for obstruction of justice and five years for making false statements. The counts each carry a fine of up to $250,000.

"Our national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here -- violating the government's trust by illegally retaining and disclosing classified information -- be prosecuted, and prosecuted vigorously," Breuer said.

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