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Harrison writes: "Whilst Edward Snowden is safe and protected until his asylum visa is due to be renewed in nine months' time, there is still much work to be done. The battle Snowden joined against state surveillance and for government transparency is one that WikiLeaks - and many others - have been fighting, and will continue to fight."

Sarah Harrison who helped Edward Snowden find refuge in Russia is now in Germany. (photo: Reuters)
Sarah Harrison who helped Edward Snowden find refuge in Russia is now in Germany. (photo: Reuters)

Courage Is Contagious

By Sarah Harrison, WikiLeaks

07 November 13


s 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.

Whilst Edward Snowden is safe and protected until his asylum visa is due to be renewed in nine months’ time, there is still much work to be done. The battle Snowden joined against state surveillance and for government transparency is one that WikiLeaks – and many others – have been fighting, and will continue to fight.

WikiLeaks’ battles are many: we fight against unaccountable power and government secrecy, publishing analysis and documents for all affected and to forever provide the public with the history that is theirs. For this, we are fighting legal cases in many jurisdictions and face an unprecedented Grand Jury investigation in the United States. WikiLeaks continues to fight for the protection of sources. We have won the battle for Snowden’s immediate future, but the broader war continues.

Already, in the few days I have spent in Germany, it is heartening to see the people joining together and calling for their government to do what must be done – to investigate NSA spying revelations, and to offer Edward Snowden asylum. The United States should no longer be able to continue spying on every person around the globe, or persecuting those that speak the truth.

Snowden is currently safe in Russia, but there are whistleblowers and sources to whom this does not apply. Chelsea Manning has been subject to abusive treatment by the United States government and is currently serving a 35-year sentence for exposing the true nature of war. Jeremy Hammond is facing a decade in a New York jail for allegedly providing journalists with documents that exposed corporate surveillance. I hope I have shown a counter example: with the right assistance whistleblowers can speak the truth and keep their liberty.

Aggressive tactics are being used against journalists, publishers and experts who work so courageously to bring truth to the world. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jacob Appelbaum are all in effective exile. Barrett Brown is indicted for reporting on unethical surveillance practices. My editor Julian Assange has asylum over US threats, but the United Kingdom refuses to allow him to fully exercise this right, violating the law. The UK government also detained David Miranda under the UK Terrorism Act for collaborating with Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald.

The UK Terrorism Act defines terrorism as the action or threat of action "designed to influence" any government "for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause". It prescribes actions that interfere with the functioning of an "electronic system" (i.e. the NSA’s bulk spying program) or which the government alleges create a "risk" to a section of the public. It should be fanciful to suggest that national security journalism which has the purpose of producing honest government or enforcing basic privacy rights should be called "terrorism", but that is how the UK is choosing to interpret this law. Almost every story published on the GCHQ and NSA bulk spying programs falls under the UK government’s interpretation of the word "terrorism". In response, our lawyers have advised me that it is not safe to return home.

The job of the press is to speak truth to power. And yet for doing our job we are persecuted. I say that these aggressive and illegal tactics to silence us – inventing arbitrary legal interpretations, over-zealous charges and disproportionate sentences – must not be permitted to succeed. I stand in solidarity with all those intimidated and persecuted for bringing the truth to the public.

In these times of secrecy and abuse of power there is only one solution – transparency. If our governments are so compromised that they will not tell us the truth, then we must step forward to grasp it. Provided with the unequivocal proof of primary source documents people can fight back. If our governments will not give this information to us, then we must take it for ourselves.

When whistleblowers come forward we need to fight for them, so others will be encouraged. When they are gagged, we must be their voice. When they are hunted, we must be their shield. When they are locked away, we must free them. Giving us the truth is not a crime. This is our data, our information, our history. We must fight to own it.

Courage is contagious.

Sarah Harrison, Wednesday 6 November 2013, Berlin your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+52 # Dust 2013-11-07 14:11
"Courage is contagious" - outstanding indeed!
+35 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-11-07 16:56
"In times of secrecy and abuse of power, there is only one solution" and I think it is to get rid of the government which is doing these evil things, along with, unfortunately, many more evil things---like endless wars and threatening all life on earth by allowing corporations to pollute and plunder the earth at their will---no enforced regulations. The government that I am talking about is the United States of America. How to change things is to change how we vote. Stop voting for either of the two major political parties. Look what they have allowed to happen! It doesn't take much courage for this. Just vote for what is good---not a lesser evil.
-84 # AlWight 2013-11-07 17:12
Sarah Harrison and the others obviously have never been in volved in a war. I have, in two, as an intelligence analyst, and know the importance of intelligence information. Those of us who have security clearances know the consequences of violating our oath to safeguard this information, and the harm it can do to the country if it is disclosed. Manning and Snowden should be held accountable to the full extent of the law.
+67 # WBoardman 2013-11-07 18:10
AlWight's assertion of blanket secrecy
for whatever a government wants to hide
is antithetical to any effective democratic system.

Manning disclosed war crimes.
Snowden disclosed intelligence crimes.

Who's going to hold those criminals
accountable to the full extent of the law?
+45 # Terrapin 2013-11-07 18:26
I seriously have to question if AIWright knows the difference between right and wrong ... And if the Nuremberg judgement of personal responsibility superseding "violating our oath" is on the radar screen?
+48 # tedrey 2013-11-07 18:32
I apologize if I err, Al, but presumably you fought in two of those recent aggressive wars which should not have been fought, and would not have been fought if the people had been given the truth about them, or if enablers like yourself had had the intelligence to know you were concealing evil. If so, you should hang your head before brave patriots like Manning and Snowden.
+29 # Malcolm 2013-11-07 19:59
Al says, " Manning and Snowden should be held accountable to the full extent of the law."

And so should you, Al. So should you.
+29 # angelfish 2013-11-07 20:01
Quoting AlWight:
Sarah Harrison and the others obviously have never been in volved in a war. I have, in two, as an intelligence analyst, and know the importance of intelligence information. Those of us who have security clearances know the consequences of violating our oath to safeguard this information, and the harm it can do to the country if it is disclosed. Manning and Snowden should be held accountable to the full extent of the law.

"Safe-guarding" is one thing. One man's "intelligence" is another man's Covered up Crime. Criminal acts are an entirely different piece of business! Manning and Snowden are to be commended and should BOTH be Pardoned. WHY is it that they ALWAYS want to kill/punish the messenger? We are SUPPOSED to be a Democracy, a government OF, BY and FOR the people. When our government is wrong, it should OWN up to it and LEARN from it's mistakes.
+15 # RLF 2013-11-08 08:48
Disclosing crimes kept secret gets one jail but torture and prisoner abuse in violation of the Geneva conventions gets one a medal? You don't see a problem with this Al!
+26 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-11-07 20:59
Is it really harmful to disclose horrible injustices to the human race?
+28 # jcdav 2013-11-07 21:46
"Manning and Snowden should be held accountable to the full extent of the law."

Well, AlWight:
So should Bush,Chaney, Obama and the other war criminals.. so who is the real perp- those who commit the crimes (two trumped up wars & civilian drone deaths & killing a US citizen w/o charge or trial) or those who expose the crimes. It would appear you believe "a sin sinned in secret is no sin at all"
0 # Old Man 2013-11-08 12:34
You have to go further back than that.
+26 # tigerlille 2013-11-07 23:44
What about the Rove/Cheney outing of undercover agent Valerie Plane, which resulted in the systematic death, torture, and abuse of her extensive system of contacts internationally (as opposed to the hypothetical harm you allege was done by the Manning and Snowden leaks)? What is your stance on prosecuting these individuals to the full extent of the law?
+18 # soularddave 2013-11-08 00:54
C'mon, Al. It looks very much as if the military of the USA was used to secure Iraqi oil so *corporations* could sell it, and to assure a supply of heroin in Afghanistan. Why are we taxpayers paying for that? Why can't we have the information so we can figure that kind of stuff out?
+6 # Jim Young 2013-11-08 07:02
Thomas Drake and how many others tried to honor the oath, and keep reports within channels. Snowden went outside because of the attempts to prosecute Drake and others that tried to stay within the system. If we had effective and honest internal channels, I would agree with you. I believe we used to have more honest internal channels, that actually did hear out suspicions, or valid reports of violations by individuals or small groups, and quietly make corrective actions.

I believe the internal channels changed into what Nick Turse describes as a system that paid much greater attention to covering up than correcting abuses. If we even just restored what we used to have, we could start making the visible results better, and reduce future abuses. I'd have to ask you if you have seen things adequately corrected, or, as Nick Turse (and I) think, have they covered up so much that the trend has been to get worse? I believe governments that turn to depend too much on a more and more repressive security apparatus,event ually morally bankrupt that government. A little honest corrective action can be so much more effective, and worthy of the people's support. Until we do have such a reformed system, I expect to see many more who feel they must reveal what seems so obvious to them (and in Snowden's case with plenty of as irrefutable evidence as practical).
+13 # rockieball 2013-11-08 08:30
I have to ask what war are we fighting? what country? When did Congress declare the war. Such fabricated actions as the War on Drugs, War on Poverty, War on Terrorism are falsehoods that never can we won by any means. These bogus so called wars are being used by our leaders, by banks, by Corporations to spy and gather information of everyone. You sir may consider yourself a loyal American now, but the way information is being gathered say one thing a politician, a employer or bank that they don't like and sudden;y you are on the other side of the loyalty fence. Like WBroadman said Manning disclosed war crimes by the previous administration crimes which this administration has blindly turned an eye on and thus is also an accomplice in that crime. Snowden intel crimes that also began with Bush and the anti Constitutional Patriot Act and has expanded under Obama to not only include America's own citizens but the citizens and leaders of our allies. The American people should (I know I am) ashamed of this. All politicians in Washington who say nothing and do nothing to stop this are in violation of their oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United states.
+11 # RLF 2013-11-08 08:45
So, al, you're saying that you volunteered for 2 of the latest corporate plunderings of our military budgets by private corps. doing war as a business. You must be really dumb to get suckered in twice!
0 # Jim Rocket 2013-11-16 13:46
Al, I'm just wondering what company you worked for when you were doing intelligence analysis?

That says it all for me. No one who valued or respected democracy would have ever gone down the road of privatization or thought that knowing everything about everyone was a good idea. I'm sure many good people resigned or were driven out of service to their country when this shift happened.
-30 # oprichniki 2013-11-07 18:37
Barack H Obama is the greatest threat to our democracy that our nation ever faced.
+6 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-11-07 21:05
Yeah. And you know what that SOB did? He kicked asses, those who were profiting off the sick and injured. Typical insurance CEO, "What? To cure these sick and injured sub-human people will injure our profits. Can't let that happen. What a bastard!"
+10 # tigerlille 2013-11-07 23:47
What are you talking about? The Affordable Care Act was essentially written by the insurance companies. Have no fear, they continue to profit, extensively. The ACA is a baby step.
+4 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-11-08 11:23
Baby steps sometimes have to be made.
+18 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-11-07 21:07
Right Wingers believe that Democracy is a dirty trick played on them by middle class and the poor.
+7 # rockieball 2013-11-08 08:47
The biggest threat to our nation was Reagan deregulating everything, creating Bin-Ladin, dealing with Iran and contras, having 39 administration officials and over 300 other government employes convicted of crimes. Then Bush/Cheney for false information and lies to invade Iraq, for torture, for start of surveillance on US citizens and more.
But maybe the biggest threat our the citizens of the USA themselves. For sitting quietly and allowing this to happen. For not marching in the streets, not protesting. Not recalling their Senators or Congressmen. The media for not reporting it like they reported Vietnam and Nixon's Watergate. For being more concerned with the distractions of sports and for the clamor for the latest and greatest technical communications device. Yes maybe the people for their unconcern over what really controls their lives.
0 # Jim Rocket 2013-11-16 13:41
Very well argued, oprichniki. You've convinced me.
+31 # PABLO DIABLO 2013-11-07 18:54
THANK YOU Sarah for your courage. I will give you asylum in my home in Mexico. And I have WiFi for you to keep working.
+19 # hardtraveling 2013-11-07 20:21
As citizens, we have the right and the duty to know what the government we elect is doing in our names. If the government is not open and responsive to what we want, but rather is secretive and spying on us, if the government treats us as an enemy, then it is our obligation to change that government through the electoral process. As Wantrealdemocra cy suggests, let's stop voting for the two Big Business Parties and start supporting third parties. Like the Green Party or the Justice Party. Quoting from Bob Hope: "One Party can't fool all the people all the time. That's why we have two Parties." And that why we need to bring into power a third Party that isn't beholden to Big Business interests.
+2 # Old Man 2013-11-08 12:52
In government, money talks and BS walks.
It really doesn't matter how many Party's we have out there to vote for.
If you think the Tea party has helped then your a fool.
We need to get the government we have under control.
+22 # michigan002 2013-11-07 21:30
So according to AI, nobody has a legitimate right to comment on anything unless they've been personally involved in it--so let's just get rid of education, school, colleges, books, etc., and just get out there and experience everything and then we'll know, right? And btw, Manning has also been involved in a war and he doesn't agree with AI--how can that be?
+12 # soularddave 2013-11-08 01:11
Some people do what they do because its the right thing to do. Others do what they do because they can get away with it.

It seems like some governments resent being spied upon when they're getting out of hand. Why is that??
+10 # beachboy 2013-11-08 06:52
Thanks a million for your work and spine, Sarah! - To hell with the lying slime bags who act as 'democratic' leaders, like head vassal Cameron et al. "A tie does not a man make."
+6 # RobertMStahl 2013-11-08 08:36
Yes! Keep it short and sweet. Excellent summary.

Context is everything, and in all domains. Unity. Time moves in one direction, for now.
+7 # Vardoz 2013-11-08 11:00
So it's " free Speech" for corporations and big money but not for those who want people to know the TRUTH about what our govt is doing. It's odd that they take away our right to due process and all our liberties under the Patriot Act except of course the right to bare arms, but at the same time we have Citizens United which is supposed to allow free speech even though it is clear how much harm big corporate money is having on our health, safety & welfare, our economy, Democracy & environment. All so those in charge can have their way at any cost to everything! It's really a lawless time where we are all enemies of the state. More people die from shootings here, car accidents & alcohol then from any foreign threats. & as the economy is going down, we are spending a half trillions for the NSA as Richard Clark pointed out. What I don't get is why is it illegal to tell the congress & senate what the NSA budget is that we tax payers are paying for? Why must the NSA be unaccountable? The bottom line is they simply don't care about our well being. It's all to make sure the majority is held in check as they impoverish us & implement lawless activities. Its so easy to fall off the moral cliff & it's happened so many times in history. Humanity is it's worst enemy. Some countries get it though, like Denmark that have the " happiest people in the world because their govt is not interested in destruction of their people, they care about their population as a whole.

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