NEW YORK, June 23 (RIA Novosti) – The United States still lacks adequate legal protection for such whistleblowers as Edward Snowden, one year after he sought asylum in Russia, a lawyer for the pressure group Human Rights Watch said.
“It is particularly ironic that of all the issues raised by the Snowden revelations, the one that gets the least attention and effort seems to be protection of national security and intelligence sector whistleblowers like Mr Snowden himself,” Dinah PoKempner told RIA Novosti.
“In the US, extremely heavy charges are levied against those who leak government secrets, and whistleblowers in intelligence and national security jobs lack both legal rights to defend themselves against retaliation, as well as legal defenses to criminal prosecution.”
Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), leaked information about the US government eavesdropping on US citizens and overseas leaders last year, sparking domestic and foreign outrage.
He is accused of releasing classified intelligence to an unauthorized person and other charges. He fled to Hong Kong and arrived in Russia one year ago, striking a temporary asylum deal in Moscow that expires in August.
“Many other countries recognize the public value of some leaks to government accountability in a democracy, and it is especially scandalous that the US, which is a strong advocate of press freedom globally, is failing to do so in this area,” PoKempner added.