23:21 GMT28 January 2020
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    The record number of whistleblower prosecutions during President Barack Obama’s term in office is not related to political influence, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Friday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — During Obama’s last seven years in office, his Department of Justice has investigated and prosecuted more government whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all past presidents combined.

    “Questions of criminal investigations and criminal prosecutions are not influenced by the president or any other political operatives in the White House,” Earnest said when asked to explain the record number of federal cases against whistleblowers.

    Earnest emphasized that “it would be inappropriate” for the White House to try to inluence a criminal investigation by either encouraging prosecutors to target an individual, or avoid targeting an individual.

    "It would be a genuine scandal if that were not the case," he said, noting President Obama has not inserted himself into the 11 whistleblowers investigations that took place, or are pending during his presidency.

    Despite the high number of prosecutions, the Obama administration is not inclined to apologize. Earnest stated that President Obama "does believe that people who swore an oath to protect sensitive information should follow it."

    In the latest Freedom of the Press Index published by Reporters Without Borders, the United States slipped to the rank of 41st as a result of the government’s increased investigation and prosecution of individuals who leak information about surveillance and counterterrorism activities.


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