Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Friday condemned leakers of sensitive information, saying that they are "betraying the intelligence community and the American people."
"In the last several years, the U.S. intelligence community has experienced some of the worst compromises of classified information in our nation's history," Coats said. "Those disclosures have been disseminated to both the media and to our foreign adversaries."
Coats explained that the disclosures are no small matter.
"These disclosures have resulted in a major threat to our national security," he said. "They endanger the men and women of the intelligence community, the armed services, and those who serve overseas."
He noted that the leaks do not only originate within the intelligence community.
"I'd like to point out, however, that these national security breaches do not just originate in the intelligence community. They come from a wide range of sources within the government, including the executive branch and including the Congress," Coats said.
The DNI made it clear that for instances when there is a valid concern, and information needs to be shared, there are proper channels for whistleblowers to pursue.
"If someone who has access to classified material has legitimate concerns, there are multiple ways for them to put forward a complaint. The IC [intelligence community] offers avenues for whistleblowers and protections for those individuals to report concerns without fear of reprisal," Coats said. "And there are other legal options available outside of those channels, including notifying the congressional intelligence committees, or even their own congressional representative or senator in Congress."
Coats concluded Friday's press conference with a clear statement to all leakers of unauthorized information.
"We will simply not tolerate the illegal release of classified information," he said.
"If you improperly disclose classified information, we will find you, we will investigate you, we will prosecute you to the fullest extent to the law, and you will not be happy with the result."
Coats and Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference to address the issue of national security leaks that has plagued the Trump administration. Senior U.S. officials have said the leaks are damaging U.S. and allied operations.
According to a Senate investigation from last month, the administration has been hit with at least one national security leak a day.