End Espionage Act Prosecutions of Whistleblowers

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April 9, 2018

End Espionage Act Prosecutions of Whistleblowers

We the undersigned organizations and individuals call for an end to the use of the constitutionally dubious Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who give information to the media on matters of public concern.

It is entirely inappropriate to use a law supposedly aimed at actual spies and saboteurs, against individuals who act in good faith to bring government misconduct to the attention of the public. Yet, we have seen this statute used with greater frequency against whistleblowers.

Last month, the Department of Justice charged former FBI agent Terry J. Albury under the Espionage Act for alleged disclosures to the media. According to charging documents, the government alleged Albury gave two documents to the media–most likely The Intercept. Allegations by the government are just that – allegations. However, the documents in question are of immense public interest. One deals with how the FBI assesses confidential informants. The FBI’s use of confidential informants has continuously raised concerns about profiling, surveillance of First Amendment protected activity, and entrapment. This is to say nothing about the general concerns about the FBI’s confidential informant program. For example, according to documents obtained by The Intercept the FBI, in its pursuit of informants, investigates individuals without probable cause of criminal wrongdoing and hunts for information that can be used to pressure them into becoming informants.

Civil liberties, civil rights, and human rights groups have long sought more information about the FBI’s sprawling use of informants, but the FBI has not been forthcoming. The Intercept’s reporting helped to create a more robust, informed public debate. According to Albury’s attorneys, his actions were driven “by a conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI.”

Helping the media shine light on systemic biases and abuses by the government is a far cry from espionage. It is the hallmark of authoritarian regimes to equate journalism, whistleblowing, and truth telling with espionage. It is entirely unacceptable for a democratic society to do the same.

We call for an end of using the constitutionally dubious Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who give information to the media on matters of public concern.

Individual Endorsements:

Ann Wright, US Army Colonel (Retired) and former US diplomat

Bogdan Dzakovic, Whistleblower

Chip Gibbons, Journalist

Coleen Rowley, FBI agent (Retired) and whistleblower

Dave Logsdon, President, Chapter 27, Veterans For Peace

David Swanson, Director, World BEYOND War

Diane Roark, Republican professional staff, House Intelligence Committee, 1985-2002

Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (Retired) and whistleblower

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council

Kirk Wiebe, Former Senior Intelligence Analyst and NSA Whistleblower

Jesselyn Radack, Director, Whistleblower & Source Protection Program, Expose Facts

John Kiriakou, CIA Torture Whistleblower

Kevin Zeese, co-director, Popular Resistance and attorney

Kristin Dooley, Director, Women Against Military Madness

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (Retired)

Margaret Flowers, co-director, Popular Resistance and medical doctor

Michael S. Kearns, Air Force Intelligence Officer (Retired)

Mike McDonald, Veterans for Peace member

Norman Singleton, President, Campaign for Liberty

Norman Solomon, Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy

Penelope Gardner, Veterans For Peace Member, Women Against Military Madness

Ray McGovern, Former CIA Analyst

Robert Wing, Foreign affairs internal whistleblower

Sascha Meinrath, Technologist

Thomas Drake, Former NSA senior executive & whistleblower

William Neuheisel, Civil liberties advocate, WHIPSeR 

 

Organizational Endorsers:

Defending Rights & Dissent

Campaign for Liberty

Come Home America

Fight for the Future

Fight for the Future

Government Accountability Project

Popular Resistance

Restore The Fourth

RootsAction.org

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Veterans For Peace, Chapter 115

Veterans For Peace, Chapter 27

Whistleblower & Source Protection Pgrm,

ExposeFacts

Women Against Military Madness

X-Lab

For more information, please contact Chip Gibbons, Policy & Legislative Counsel, Defending Rights & Dissent at chip@rightsanddissent.org or (202) 552-7408



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