Chelsea Manning isn’t the only US whistleblower who just got some good news

Support us and go ad-free

On 17 January, the US government announced that imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning would be freed. But favourable news also greeted NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shortly after.

According to reports, Russia has extended Snowden’s residency for three more years. And the extension gives the whistleblower the right to apply to become a Russian citizen next year.

The development follows an extraordinarily unprofessional appeal from former acting CIA director Michael Morell. In a column for The Cipher Brief, Morell suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin should hand Snowden over to incoming US President Donald Trump. He claimed it would be “the perfect inauguration gift”.

Snowden’s service

In 2013, Snowden was an employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. It was then that he leaked details of US and UK intelligence operations to journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald. The leaks showed the extraordinary, and largely illegal, mass surveillance capabilities that these countries were using against foreign and domestic populations.

The Guardian published the leaks, as Greenwald was working for them at the time. And it faced the fury of the UK authorities for doing so. The Guardian also partnered with other news organisations, such as The New York Times, to continue publication.

Snowden’s identity was made public shortly after the initial leaks, and a manhunt ensued. Snowden ended up in Russia, via Hong Kong, after the US revoked his passport. Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks helped facilitate his transit. But the revoking of his passport forced the whistleblower to remain in Russia. And the country granted him temporary asylum in August 2013.

New developments

Since then, Russia has extended Snowden’s residency further. And on 18 January, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed that Snowden could stay in Russia for a “couple of years” more. Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, meanwhile, told RIA Novosti that he can stay until 2020.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

At the same time, there is a campaign urging current US President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden. But while news of Manning’s release (scheduled for 17 May) encourages optimism, there’s no pardon for Snowden yet.

Both whistleblowers did the public a great service. In releasing around 700,000 military and diplomatic records to WikiLeaks, Manning forced a conversation on the endless waging of wars. And as Trevor Timm has pointed out, she even helped to end the invasion of Iraq. Snowden, meanwhile, showed us what our governments were doing to us, in secret and in violation of our rights. And Assange’s WikiLeaks provided the platform for Manning’s leaks, while ensuring Snowden’s safety.

These people gave citizens a way to hold the powerful to account. But, unsurprisingly, that’s not something the powerful often applaud. Snowden is still public enemy number one in the eyes of some officials. And Trump himself has previously hinted that the whistleblower should be killed.

Perhaps, then, Russia is the safest place for Snowden at present. And although Obama only has around 24 hours left in office, he could use those final hours to reverse another piece of his damning legacy. That of having prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined.

Get Involved!

– You can Stand Up For Snowden here.

– Help The Courage Foundation in supporting whistleblowers.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr, Alicia Neal/Wikimedia and Cancillería del Ecuador/Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed