Today marks five years since the Guardian published Verizon’s FISA court order, the first story based on documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. At the time this story appeared, the whistleblower’s name was not known. It was three days and several enormous stories later that Snowden finally stepped out of the shadows, the source of the biggest public archive of top secret documents in history.
On 1 April 2015, Barack Obama signed into law an Executive Order “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities”
Media reports speculated that the new powers granted by this Executive Order would enable executive authorities to confiscate cryptocurrency holdings and even prohibit donations to Edward Snowden’s defence fund.
Laura Poitras’ documentary about Edward Snowden, CITIZENFOUR, was awarded an Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on 22 February 2014.
In her acceptance speech, standing alongside Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills, Laura Poitras paid tribute to Edward Snowden:
The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don’t only expose the threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made that affect all of us are being made in secret, we lose our ability to control. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and to the many other whistleblowers. I share this with Glenn Greenwald and the other journalists that are exposing truth.
Snowden himself released a statement via the ACLU:
When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me. The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.
Courage, the organisation that runs Edward Snowden’s defence fund and this website, also released a statement, which emphasises the “dangerous gap in protections for whistleblowers” demonstrated in the film.
The Courage Foundation is delighted that CITIZENFOUR has been awarded the Oscar for the Best Documentary Feature of 2014.
The film shows that after journalists left Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, awaiting the United States’ charges and extradition request, Snowden relied on WikiLeaks to secure him asylum. As Laura Poitras’ film depicts, Snowden is now safe, living comfortably with his girlfriend in Moscow, but the film demonstrates the dangerous gap in protections for whistleblowers. WikiLeaks’ rescue – and the need it demonstrated – was the inception of Courage, devoted to providing protections, defence and safety nets for whistleblowers in the highest-risk situations, when others can’t or won’t help.
Courage, which hosts Edward Snowden’s only official defence fund, is establishing international networks ready to provide future Snowdens with logistical and legal help, in addition to assisting journalistic sources at risk before the investigation stage. But we need your help. Fighting legal battles against the most powerful governments in the world is expensive, yet essential. Courage’s Acting Director Sarah Harrison said: “Governments are ramping up their efforts to persecute those who expose the truth, and we must do the same if we’re going to keep our truth-tellers safe. Donate to Courage to ensure we are there when we are needed most.”
Announced on 5 May 2014, awarded on 22 June 2014
Edward Snowden has been named as the first recipient of the Berliner Prize for Civic Courage, which recognises his “courageous advocacy of democracy and civil rights.” Mr Snowden has said he is “very honoured” to have been chosen for the Prize, which was formally awarded at a public ceremony in Berlin on 22 June 2014, the day after his birthday. Courage Acting Director Sarah Harrison accepted the award on Mr Snowden’s behalf.
Originally posted 6 November 2013, 17:30 UTC on WikiLeaks
As a journalist I have spent the last four months with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and arrived in Germany over the weekend. I worked in Hong Kong as part of the WikiLeaks team that brokered a number of asylum offers for Snowden and negotiated his safe exit from Hong Kong to take up his legal right to seek asylum. I was travelling with him on our way to Latin America when the United States revoked his passport, stranding him in Russia. For the next 39 days I remained with him in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where I assisted in his legal application to 21 countries for asylum, including Germany, successfully securing his asylum in Russia despite substantial pressure by the United States. I then remained with him until our team was confident that he had established himself and was free from the interference of any government.
Originally posted 1 August 2013, 16:00 UTC on WikiLeaks
Today, Thursday 1st August at 15:50 MSK, Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia. He left Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow with WikiLeaks staffer and legal advisor Sarah Harrison who has accompanied him during his 39 day stay in the transit zone and continues to do so. Ms Harrison has remained with Mr Snowden at all times to protect his safety and security, including during his exit from Hong Kong. They departed from the airport together in a taxi and are headed to a secure, confidential place.
On 16th July Mr Snowden made a request for temporary asylum to Russia. Despite the ongoing pressure from the United States, which has been trying to interfere with this sovereign process in violation of the UN Protocol on the Rights of Refugees, Russia has done the right thing and granted Mr Snowden temporary asylum. The certificate of temporary asylum by the Russian Federation lasts for one year and affords Mr Snowden the right to live in and travel around Russia, where he can now plan his next steps in safety. On receiving his asylum certificate Mr Snowden said: “Over the past eight weeks we have seen the Obama administration show no respect for international or domestic law, but in the end the law is winning. I thank the Russian Federation for granting me asylum in accordance with its laws and international obligations.”