Snowden Warns Targeting of Greenwald and Assange Shows Governments 'Ready to Stop the Presses—If They Can'
In an op-ed published Sunday night by the Washington Post, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden connected Brazilian federal prosecutors’ recent decision to file charges against American investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald to the U.S. government’s efforts to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
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“The most essential journalism of every era is precisely that which a government attempts to silence. These prosecutions demonstrate that they are ready to stop the presses—if they can.”
—Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower
Snowden, board of directors president at Freedom of the Press Foundation, is among those who have spoken out since Greenwald was charged with cybercrime on Jan. 21. Reporters and human rights advocates have denounced the prosecution as “a straightforward attempt to intimidate and retaliate against Greenwald and The Intercept for their critical reporting” on officials in Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s government.
Greenwald, who is also on Freedom of the Press Foundation’s board, is one of the journalists to whom Snowden leaked classified materials in 2013.
As Common Dreams reported last week, the NSA whistleblower, who has lived with asylum protection in Russia for the past several years, is also among the political observers who have pointed out that although even some of Greenwald’s critics have rallied behind him in recent days, Assange has not experienced such solidarity. Assange is being held in a London prison, under conditions that have raised global alarm, while he fights against extradition to the United States.
In his Post op-ed, “Trump Has Created a Global Playbook to Attack Those Revealing Uncomfortable Truths,” Snowden wrote of Greenwald’s case that “as ridiculous as these charges are, they are also dangerous—and not only to Greenwald: They are a threat to press freedom everywhere. The legal theory used by the Brazilian prosecutors—that journalists who publish leaked documents are engaged in a criminal ‘conspiracy’ with the sources who provide those documents—is virtually identical to the one advanced in the Trump administration’s indictment of [Assange] in a new application of the historically dubious Espionage Act.”
Snowden—who said in December that he believes that if he returned to the United States, he’d spend his life in prison for exposing global mass surveillance practices of the U.S. government—explained:
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