A former National Security Agency official accused of leaking classified information in an effort to expose mismanagement and overreach will enter a plea deal, avoiding significant jail time.

In 2006, Thomas A. Drake passed along information to a Baltimore Sun reporter in order to expose what he saw as deficiencies with ineffective surveillance programs. The Obama administration indicted him on grounds that he had violated the Espionage Act of 1917, charges that could have resulted in up to 35 years in prison. The move was widely seen as part of the administration's attempt to silence whistleblowers through aggressive prosecution.

I hope this is the death knell of using the Espionage Act to send a message to 'leakers' who are more often than not whistle-blowers, said Jesselyn Radack, who represents Drake in a separate case involving the National Security Agency. This was the wrong person, this was the wrong case, and the Espionage Act was an overreach.

Drake struck a deal with prosecutors a day before his trial was set to begin in which they dropped the Espionage Act charges in exchange for his pleading guilty to misusing a government computer, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year and prison and a $100,000 fine.

This is a just result, said Mr. Drake's attorneys, James Wyda and Debbie Boardman. Tom never intended to harm his country. And he didn't. We are grateful that Tom and his family can start to put this frightening chapter behind them.