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Daniel Ellsberg Defending Edward Snowden

US Secretary of State John Kerry called Edward Snowden a coward and a traitor and praised Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971, for having stayed in the country after the leaks about the Vietnam War.

Daniel Ellsberg, writing in the Guardian, says that Edward Snowden is not a coward, but has no chance of a fair hearing and trial because of the Espionage Act.

On the Today show and CBS, Kerry complimented me (Daniel Ellsberg) again – and said Snowden “should man up and come back to the United States” to face charges. But John Kerry is wrong, because that’s not the measure of patriotism when it comes to whistleblowing, for me or Snowden, who is facing the same criminal charges I did for exposing the Pentagon Papers.

…Snowden’s chance of being allowed out on bail (is) zero. (Ellsberg: I was out on bond, speaking against the Vietnam war, the whole 23 months I was under indictment). More importantly, the current state of whistleblowing prosecutions under the Espionage Act makes a truly fair trial wholly unavailable to an American who has exposed classified wrongdoing. Legal scholars have strongly argued that the US supreme court – which has never yet addressed the constitutionality of applying the Espionage Act to leaks to the American public – should find the use of it overbroad and unconstitutional in the absence of a public interest defense. The Espionage Act, as applied to whistleblowers, violates the First Amendment, is what they’re saying.

Without reform to the Espionage Act that lets a court hear a public interest defense – or a challenge to the appropriateness of government secrecy in each particular case – Snowden and future Snowdens can and will only be able to “make their case” from outside the United States.

See the link below for the full article from the Guardian of 30 May 2014.


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