Over 150 organisasjoner ber Obama beskytte varslere

President Barack Obama 
The White House 
Washington, DC, United States 

CC: Attorney General Eric Holder 
Secretary of State John Kerry 

5 August 2013 

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. 

We are, therefore, dismayed that criminal charges have been filed against Snowden, including those under the vague and overbroad Espionage Act of 1917. Statements by the State Department that Snowden is not a whistleblower simply because of the nature of the charges against him flatly contradict international standards on freedom of expression and information. Attempts to obstruct Snowden’s freedom of movement, his right to seek asylum, including the revocation of his passport, and other forms of retaliation also violate US obligations under international law. 

Moreover, we are concerned that the charges against Snowden are not an isolated incident, and that there have been an unprecedented number of prosecutions against whistleblowers during your administration, as well as intrusive investigations to identify the sources of journalists reporting on matters that are in the public interest. This tendency of the US government towards obsessively controlling information flows and an aversion to public discourse is both undemocratic and unsustainable in the digital era. 

Taken together, we find that these actions have set a dangerous precedent for the protection of whistleblowers and journalists worldwide. As you are aware, whistleblowers often face criminal charges when they reveal information that causes acute embarrassment to governments, to distract from the wrongdoing revealed. Similarly, journalists are also attacked for publishing the disclosed information. We are seriously concerned that governments will rely on the US example to justify attacks on whistleblowers and journalists who put themselves at significant risk to expose or report government wrongdoing, corruption, or other dangers to society. 

The US has a long history of recognising the important role whistleblowers play in democracy, going back to Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Law, the False Claims Act. While the Whistleblower Protection Act in 2009 built upon these protections, they specifically exclude protections for public interest disclosures of national security or intelligence information. While the recent Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-19 on “Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information” and Attorney General Eric Holder’s guidance on protecting reporters’ privilege are both positive, as policy they are not binding law and provide no legal protection or remedy for whistleblowers or journalists seeking to defend information disclosures. Greater legal protections in this area are therefore needed. 

We call on your administration to take the following actions:
Drop the charges with prejudice against Edward Snowden
Immediately reinstate Edward Snowden’s passport and cease attempts to obstruct his right to seek asylum in any country of his choice
Initiate an executive public consultation on the activities of the National Security Agency
Instruct the Justice Department to declassify and make public all orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
Commit to seeking the adoption through Congress of an extension of the Whistleblower Protection Act and the reform of the Espionage Act to ensure there are appropriate and legally binding protections for whistleblowers disclosing national security and intelligence information
Continue to support the adoption by Congress of a strong and robust «media shield law» with narrow exemptions for national security information.

Yours sincerely, 

Active Watch – Media Monitoring Agency 
Afghanistan Journalists Center 
Africa Freedom of Information Centre 
Albanian Media Institute 
Aliansi Jurnalis Independen/Alliance of Independent Journalists 
Association for Civil Rights 
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression 
Bahrain Center for Human Rights 
Cambodian Center for Human Rights 
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression 
Cartoonists Rights Network International 
Center for Independent Journalism – Romania 
Centre for Independent Journalism – Malaysia 
Centro de Archivos y Acceso a la Información Pública 
Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala – CERIGUA 
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social 
Derechos Digitales 
Electronic Frontier Foundation 
Foro de Periodismo Argentino 
Foundation for Press Freedom – FLIP 
Globe International 
Hong Kong Journalists Association 
Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda 
Independent Journalism Center – Moldova 
Index on Censorship 
Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey 
Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety 
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information 
Institute of Mass Information 
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance 
Media Institute of Southern Africa 
Media Rights Agenda 
National Union of Somali Journalists 
Norwegian PEN 
Pakistan Press Foundation 
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms – MADA 
PEN Canada 
PEN International 
Privacy International 
Public Association «Journalists» 
Reporters Without Borders 
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media 
West African Journalists Association 
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters – AMARC 

ACCUN – Tunisian Digital Culture 
Ain-O-Shalish Kendra, Bangladesh 
Albanian Helsinki Committee 
Alliance National Timor Leste for International Tribunal (ANTI) 
Alternative Informatics Association, Turkey 
ANDI – Communication and Rights, Brazil 
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) 
Associação Brasileira de Centros de Inclusão Digital (ABCID), Brazil 
Associação Nacional para o Software Livre, Portugal 
Association «Yakadha» for democracy and Civil State, Tunisia 
Association for Progressive Communications (APC) 
Association of Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement, Ukraine 
Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Kosovo 
Bolo Bhi, Pakistan 
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee 
Burma Partnership 
Bytes for All, Pakistan 
Catalan PEN 
Center for Development and Democratization of Institutions, Albania 
Center for National and International Studies, Azerbaijan 
Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Russia 
Centre for Internet and Society, India 
Centre for Law and Democracy, Canada 
Centre for Participatory Research and Development, Bangladesh 
Centro de Cultura Luiz Freire, Brazil 
Centro de Estudos da Mídia Alternativa Barão de Itararé, Brazil 
Centro Internacional de Estudios Superiores de Comunicación para América Latina (CIESPAL), Ecuador 
ChangeMaker, Bangladesh 
Christian Media Network, South Korea 
Civil Coalition for the Defence of Freedom of Expression, Tunisia 
COAST, Bangladesh 
Computer professionals for peace and social responsibility (FIfF), Germnay 
Digitalcourage e.V., Germany 
Electronic Frontier Finland 
English PEN 
Equity BD, Bangladesh 
Finnish PEN 
Föreningen för Digitala Fri- och Rättigheter, Sweden 
Foundation for Regional Initiatives, Ukraine 
Freedom of information and expression – Marroco, Morocco 
Freedom of the Press Foundation, USA 
German PEN Centre 
Government Accountability Project (GAP), USA 
GPOPAI – Grupo de Pesquisa em Políticas Públicas para o Acesso à Informação da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil 
Grupo Medios y Sociedad (GMS), Uruguay 
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor, Armenia 
Helsinki committee of Armenia 
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland 
Human Rights Center, Uganda 
Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan 
Human Rights Club, Azerbaijan 
Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Lithuania 
Imparsial- The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor, Indonesia 
Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) 
INSEC- Informal Sector Service Center, Nepal 
Institute for Contemporary Social and Political Studies, Slovenia 
Instituto Bem-Estar Brasil 
Intervozes (Brazil)
International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) 
International Youth Human Rights Movement, Russia 
Iraqi Journalists Rights Defense Association, Iraq 
IT-Politisk Forening, Denmark 
Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP), Timor Leste 
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law 
KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence), Indonesia 
KRF Public Alternative, Ukraine 
La Quadrature du Net, France 
Law and Society Trust (LST), Sri Lanka 
Law, Internet and Society Nucleous – University of São Paulo, Brazil 
Mass Media Defence Centre, Russia 
Media Defence – Southeast Asia (MDSEA) 
Moscow Helsinki Group 
National Union of Tunisian Journalists SNJT 
New Zealand PEN Centre 
Notabene, Tajikistan 
Odhikar, Bangladesh 
Open Rights Group, UK 
Panoptykon Foundation, Poland 
Panos Eastern Africa 
Paradigm Initiative Nigeria 
PEN Center West USA 
PEN International’s Swiss Romand Center 
PEN Melbourne, Australia 
PEN Palestine 
PEN Turkey Centre 
People in Need, Czech Republic 
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (Center for Whistleblowers Support), South Korea 
People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), India 
Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD), Ecuador 
Portuguese PEN Centre 
Press Union and Audiovisual of Djibouti (SPAD) 
Pro Media, Macedonia 
Russian PEN 
Samoa Observer 
Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) 
San Miguel PEN Center, Mexico 
Scottish PEN 
SonTusDatos, Mexico 
South African PEN Centre 
SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia) 
Swiss German PEN Center, Switzerland 
Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) 
Tanzania Human Rights Defenders’ Coalition 
Think Centre, Singapore 
Tunis Centre for Freedom of the Press 
Tunisian Association of Women Lawyer 
Tunisian Engineers Council 
Tunisian Union of Free Radios STRL 
Uganda Journalists Union 
Union of Independent Newspapers, Tunisia 
Vrijschrift, the Netherlands