Originally posted 4 November 2013 on the Amnesty International website
Any potential trial of whistleblower Edward Snowden would amount to political persecution if it covers his revelations about the US government’s human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.
Over the weekend top US officials, including the White House and leading lawmakers, went on the record saying the former intelligence agency contractor – who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia – should not receive clemency for leaking information about the USA’s wide-reaching surveillance programmes.
“Edward Snowden is a whistleblower who has disclosed an unlawful global digital surveillance programme that has violated the right to privacy of millions of people. As such, he has grounds to seek asylum abroad out of well-founded fears the USA would persecute him for his actions,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International.
Originally posted 10 October 2013 on the Guardian website
Editors around the world expressed their support of the journalistic work that has gone into the publications of NSA and GCHQ mass surveillance programs, following a flurry of UK media headlines including accusations that the Guardian paper was aiding terrorists.
On 9 October 2013 the Telegraph published an article with the extraordinary title, ‘GCHQ leaks have “gifted” terrorists ability to attack “at will”, warns spy chief’. The article quoted extensively from a speech given by the UK’s new MI5 Director-General Andrew Parker and emphasised that leaks of GCHQ classified information had given terrorists a significant advantage. The following day, the Daily Mail published a comment accusing the Guardian of being a paper that helps Britain’s enemies and causes real damage by leaking information about GCHQ to the public.
Originally posted 6 August 2013 on the Article 19 website
Dear President Obama,
We are writing to you as free speech and media freedom organisations from around the world to express our strong concern over the response of the US government to the actions of whistleblower Edward Snowden. We urge you to take immediate action to protect whistleblowers and journalists.
Edward Snowden’s recent disclosures have triggered a necessary and long-delayed public debate about the acceptable boundaries of surveillance in a democratic country, a debate that on 5 June you welcomed having. The revelations brought into question the legitimacy of the secretive process of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and closed Congressional intelligence committees as appropriate forums to determine the fundamental human rights of Americans and persons worldwide. The disclosures have clearly served the public interest, including by prompting similar debates in countries around the world.
Originally posted 3 July 2013 on the Human Rights Watch website
Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the massive surveillance of communications data by the United States and the United Kingdom point to a serious infringement on the right of privacy. If true, these disclosures indicate that data is being collected about the communications, associations, and movements of millions of ordinary people who aren’t suspected of wrongdoing or considered a threat. This indiscriminate collection of data is intrinsically overbroad and cannot be justified by some future hypothetical usefulness against potential threats to these countries.
The law often criminalizes the disclosure of secrets by employees or agents of a government. But international law recognizes that revealing official secrets is sometimes justified in the public interest. In particular it may be necessary to expose and protect against serious human rights violations, including overreaching or unjustifiable surveillance. International principles on national security whistleblowers outline various circumstances under which governments should protect people from punishment if they disclose information of public concern.
Originally posted 2 July 2013 on the Amnesty International website
The US authorities’ relentless campaign to hunt down and block whistleblower Edward Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum is deplorable and amounts to a gross violation of his human rights Amnesty International said today.
“The US attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum are deplorable,” said Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International. “It is his unassailable right, enshrined in international law, to claim asylum and this should not be impeded.”
The organization also believes that the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the USA.
Originally posted 10 June 2013 on the National Whistleblower Center website
Statement of Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center
“Edward Snowden should not be prosecuted. Instead, the White House must keep the promise made by President Obama, during his 2008 election campaign, when he pledged to support legislation that would fully protect all government whistleblowers, including those in sensitive national security positions.”
“Until Congress enacts a law, setting forth reasonable procedures by which civil servants can disclose national security violations to the American people, the government should not prosecute these whistleblowers. Congress and the President must do their jobs, and stop destroying the lives of civil servants who try to report misconduct.”
There is significant historical precedent for the protection of whistleblowers demonstrating that such protections were strongly supported by the Founding Fathers. Mr Kohn previously discussed this precedent in his New York Times op-ed ‘The Whistleblowers of 1777’. Mr Kohn is also the author of The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself (Lyons Press, 2011).