08:43 GMT19 January 2021
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    In 2013, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden fled the US after leaking classified documents that disclosed the NSA illegally accessing information on millions of people in the US and beyond.

    In a video interview on Wednesday, ex-National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden told journalist Glenn Greenwald about what Snowden described as the crackdown on whistleblowing journalists in the US, where he claimed "the threats against the press go far beyond physical violence".

    "You see threats against journalism—particularly female journalists—online, social media, just because people don't like what's being reported. They don't like the facts that are being brought to them. Then there's this whole other step, which is, what is the government doing against it? And in nowhere is this more clear, I think, than the war on whistleblowers", Snowden argued.

    He insisted that such a war kicked off under former President George W. Bush, escalated during the Obama administration, and is now currently underway.

    "This is not a partisan issue; these people are backers of Obama, and we all know about the things that have happened under the Trump administration. But when you look at this as a trend, as a dynamic, what you see is the criminalisation of journalism", the ex-NSA contractor claimed.

    In this context, Snowden pointed to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who remains incarcerated in a maximum-security London prison as he awaits a decision from a judge on whether he should be extradited to the US.

    © Photo : Mohamed Elmaazi
    Van with banner on it saying Don't Extradite Assange - Journalism is Not a Crime passes by Old Bailey on 28 September 2020

    Assange faces up to 175 years in prison on charges related to his and WikiLeaks' role in publishing classified US documents that revealed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other forms of corruption and malfeasance.

    Snowden praised Assange's WikiLeaks work as "the greatest act of journalism that he ever did", noting that the WikiLeaks founder is an example of the US government's attempts to distinguish between mainstream media reporters and journalists who prefer to use their own ways to disclose information.

    US Justice Department Declares War on 'Journalism Itsels' - Snowden

    The former NSA contractor also referred to Assange in May 2019, when the US Justice Department filed 17 new charges against the WikiLeaks founder. Snowden tweeted at the time that the department "just declared war not on Wikileaks, but on journalism itself" and that it is "no longer about Julian Assange: this case will decide the future of media".

    In the interview with Greenwald, Snowden also predicted the freedom of the US press "is going to continue to decline" until there is "an actual policy shift", when asked about how the situation may develop under a possible presidency of Joe Biden, who served as vice president under Obama.

    In June 2013, Snowden handed a series of classified material over to The Washington Post and The Guardian about the NSA's global surveillance programmes that collected telephone, email, and internet browsing data on nearly everyone in the US despite a law prohibiting spying on citizens without a court order.

    Since then, Snowden has been in self-imposed exile in Russia, and he recently revealed that "in this era of pandemics and closed borders", he and his wife would like to apply for dual US-Russian citizenship.


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    war, crackdown, journalists, media, government, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, US
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