Thurlbeck was arrested in April on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages while working at the now-defunct tabloid.
A source confirmed that the 50-year-old reporter was sacked earlier this month and has launched a claim against Rupert Murdoch’s firm.
A News International spokeswoman said: “News International will vigorously contest the case.”
A preliminary hearing will take place at the East London Tribunal Service centre on Friday, in which Thurlbeck is expected to claim he was a whistleblower, the source said.
An email apparently intended for Thurlbeck, the so-called “For Neville” message, seemed to contradict News International’s stance that hacking was the fault of a single rogue reporter, former royal correspondent Clive Goodman, who was paying private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to carry it out.
The document contained a transcript of hacked private information about Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor.
Meanwhile, Thurlbeck, along with two other News of the World hacking suspects, have had their bail extended until next year.
Ian Edmondson, 42, James Weatherup, 55, and Thurlbeck, all senior journalists at the now-defunct tabloid, were understood to have separately visited police stations.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said three men questioned in April “all attended police stations and have been further bailed to dates in March 2012 pending further inquiries”.
They were among the first of 16 arrests in the fresh investigation into illegal activities at the tabloid. They join former NoW executive Stuart Kuttner in being bailed until March.
Kuttner, 71, who resigned as the newspaper’s managing editor in July 2009, is among 16 suspects arrested since Scotland Yard’s Operation Weeting was launched.
Detectives have arrested a series of high-profile figures, including former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson.
The scandal has already led to the closure of the News of the World after 168 years and the resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner John Yates.
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