‘Plight for whistleblowers in US a lot worse now’ – Snowden’s lawyer

A journalist looks at a display with a picture of former CIA employee Edward Snowden. The photo is taken during his meeting with human rights organizations at Sheremetyevo airport. (RIA Novosti/Pavel Lisitsyn)
Despite public perception of whistleblowers changing for the better, the plight of those who choose to expose wrongdoings “has gotten a lot worse” in the US, former ethics adviser to Justice Department and Edward Snowden’s lawyer, Josselyn Radak, told RT.

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To back up her statement, Radack singled out US President Barack Obama for prosecuting “more whistleblowers than any previous president and then all previous presidents combined.”

RT:What good has come out of whistleblowing?

Josselyn Raddak: Enormous public good has come out of whistleblowing, of the major scandals going on in the United Sates and the world ranging from torture to secret surveillance, to war crimes. We wouldn’t know information about any of this but for whistleblowers who have come forward to reveal fraud, waste, abuse, illegality and gross crimes.

RT:Almost every week we are reporting on it. It doesn’t mean that it got worse, it just means that you brought it to the fore and now it is being reported on. Is it a correct assumption?

JR: It has gotten worse. Up until the indictment of Thomas Drake in 2010, no-one had been prosecuted under the espionage act for 40 years for allegedly leaking information. And in the past 5 years President Obama has persecuted more whistleblowers than any previous president and then all previous presidents combined. And he has done so under the Espionage Act. So I think the plight for whistleblowers has gotten lot worse. Not only do you risk losing your job, you risk losing your very freedom.

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RT:Could you just remind our viewers what you did in a nutshell, your whistleblowing, just tell them what you did and what happened as a result of it?

JR: When I was a justice department attorney I blew the whistle on our first prisoner in the Afghanistan War, because the United States was not allowing him, a US citizen, to have his attorney and we were also engaged in torture. And because I revealed that information, I was put under one of the first Federal Criminal leak investigations and put on the no-fly list, which really wrecked my life over a number of years. I decided to dedicate myself professionally as an attorney to representing whistleblowers. And I’ve been privileged over the years to represent Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden and today’s recipient of the Sam Adams award Bill Binney.

READ MORE: ‘Snowden broke the mold and freed up whistleblowers like Binney’

RT:You talked about the espionage act and the way that’s used now against people like you. Is there any future for whistleblowers, and is the government likely to treat people like you any differently, as the public perception about you and what you are doing has grown so much in the last couple of years?

JR: Public perception of whistleblowers is changing. You see both Edward Snowden and Bill Binney featured in the documentary Citizenfour by Laura Poitras, which has now been nominated for an Oscar award. People are beginning to realize the public value of the information brought forward by whistleblowers who were being persecuted and prosecuted for exposing illegality.

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