150 human rights, digital rights and media rights NGOs call on Obama to end prosecution of Snowden

More than 150 civil society organisations defending human rights, digital rights and media rights in countries as far afield as the UK to Uruguay, from the USA to Ukraine to Uganda, have written to President Obama to urge him to end the prosecution of Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers like him.

“Edward Snowden’s disclosures have triggered a necessary and long-delayed public debate about mass surveillance online everywhere. Because of him, we have learned that much of our online life is being systematically intercepted and monitored by governments,” said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

“Unfortunately, rather than investigate and prosecute those that have ordered and conducted one of the most unprecedented global violations of our rights, the US government has chosen to figuratively shoot the messenger, and European governments have been quick to help. They have revoked his passport, interfered in and obstructed his search for asylum, even impeding the travel of a sovereign president in their desire to punish the messenger,” she added.

ARTICLE 19 has brought together over 150 organisations from around the globe who have all expressed in a joint letter equal concern about the manner in which one of the world’s foremost democracies is prosecuting a whistleblower.

In the letter, civil society organisations call on President Obama to:

  • 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 under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, upon their completion
  • Commit to seeking the adoption through Congress of an extension of the 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement 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.

The 150 letter signatories are also concerned about the effect this manhunt will have on governments that rely on the US example. They will justify their own attacks on their own whistleblowers and journalists who put themselves at significant risk to expose or report wrongdoing, corruption, or other dangers to society.

Full text of the letter and the complete list of signatories is available here