(ANTIMEDIA) Amnesty International UK has launched a campaign and petition asking President Obama not to“punish” Edward Snowden for whistleblowing. By exposing “the sinister extent of global mass surveillance,” the organization says, he has informed the world about “human rights abuses” and should not be prosecuted as a traitor.
In light of the federal court ruling that deemed the NSA’s surveillance tactics using provisions of the Patriot Act illegal, Amnesty is calling for the charges against Snowden under the infamous Espionage Act to be dropped.
The organization also explains that its successful litigation against the UK government and its intelligence community was only possible with information revealed by the whistleblower—thus questioning the justification for such “strict charges” still remaining against him. As its statement explains,
“There are protections around whistleblowers when the information they have revealed is seen to be in the public interest. Snowden’s revelations undoubtedly brought our attention to previously unknown abuses […] The charges facing Snowden under the 1917 Espionage Act are outdated and ill-equipped to deal with the circumstances of his case — and if he’s tried for crimes under the Espionage Act, he could be prevented from presenting a defense that explains his motives were in the public interest.”
Snowden’s freedom to seek asylum in countries that agree he deserves such protection is being severely hindered by the US government’s revocation of his passport and continued political pressure to force other countries into cooperating to restrict his travel.
Amnesty’s campaign vigorously urges the US to completely drop the charges, but says:
“If the US does try Snowden, President Obama should ensure that Snowden is guaranteed a fair trial, and allowed to argue that information he revealed was in the public interest and guarant[ee] him whistleblowers’ protections.”