A former US government intelligence analyst has been charged with leaking classified national security information to a reporter.
Daniel Everette Hale, 31, of Nashville, Tennessee, was arrested after allegedly providing at least 17 top secret documents to an unnamed journalist.
According to the indictment, the files related to counterterrorism and were published in whole or in part.
He is expected to make his first court appearance in Nashville on Thursday.
After enlisting with the US Air Force in 2009, Mr Hale went on to work as an analyst with the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), court documents say.
In these roles, Mr Hale gained top secret security clearance and had access to classified defence information, according to authorities.
In April 2013, court documents allege, while assigned to the NSA, Mr Hale began communicating with the reporter, speaking in person and using encrypted messaging tools.
According to prosecutors, in February 2014 Mr Hale printed 36 documents from his “Top Secret computer”, providing at least 17 to the journalist.
The files included a memo outlining a military campaign against al-Qaeda and a top secret intelligence report on an operative for the extremist group, the indictment said.
Mr Hale also allegedly had a thumb drive with software recommended by the reporter’s online news outlet in an article on how to anonymously leak documents.
The indictment details extensive communication between Mr Hale and the journalist, and cites a text message between Mr Hale and a friend saying the reporter “wants me to tell my story about working with drones”.
While the outlet is not named in court documents, it is reported to be the Intercept, an online news publication.
In October 2015, the Intercept published “The Drone Papers”, which used “a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the US military’s assassination program”, that was provided to one of its journalists “by a whistleblower”.
The Intercept has made no comment on Mr Hale’s arrest.
This would be the third time someone has been charged with leaking sensitive information to the media outlet.
Mr Hale is charged under the Espionage Act with five crimes related to stealing and disclosing national defence information.
He faces a maximum of 50 years in prison.