Tag Archives: Edward Snowden

‘Stand With Reality’ Awareness Campaign to Fund Legal Defense for Alleged Whistleblower Reality Winner

‘Stand With Reality’ Awareness Campaign to Fund Legal Defense for Alleged Whistleblower Reality Winner

Stand With Reality, a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of concerned individuals, is launching a campaign today to defend N.S.A. contractor Ms. Reality Leigh Winner against an overzealous prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice.


Winner has been charged under the Espionage Act, a 100-year-old statute originally designed for spies and saboteurs, for allegedly giving a document vital to the public’s understanding of potential Russian interference in U.S. election systems to a news organization.


Stand With Reality believes the charge against Winner is grossly disproportionate to her alleged offense, and is designed to create a chilling effect on investigative journalism by dissuading sources from sharing information that is critical to the public interest. The group is dedicated to raising public awareness of Winner’s case, as well as the U.S. government’s persistent abuse of the Espionage Act to silence its critics and stifle journalism.


“The document Winner is alleged to have given The Intercept is vital for understanding how U.S. election systems are seriously vulnerable to hacking. It is absurd that the government is charging her under the draconian Espionage Act rather than helping states fix our country’s election security,” said Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist project director and co-founder of Stand With Reality.


The organization aims to fully fund Winner’s legal defense team headed by attorney Titus Nichols, of the Augusta, Georgia law firm of Bell & Brigham. Stand with Reality launched a crowdfunding campaign today to cover both legal fees and public awareness efforts. “It is refreshing to know that so many people that Ms. Winner has never known have come together to offer their support and prayers for her,” notes Nichols. “Your pledge of additional support, for fees related to her case, is commendable,” he adds.


“The new Stand with Reality group means the world to me. Not only are they going to be raising money for my daughter’s legal defense, they’ll also be raising awareness. Reality won’t be forgotten, and she’ll have a whole organization behind her,” said Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, of Kingsville, Texas. The Winner Family will be closing their GoFundMe effort and directing supporters to the new Reality Winner Defense Fund hosted by Courage to Resist in collaboration with Stand with Reality. Meanwhile, the UK-based Courage Foundation is undertaking fundraising and support efforts on behalf of Winner throughout Europe.


First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund provided a grant of $50,000 which will act as a matching fund for the first $50,000 raised for this campaign between now and August 30th. First Look is the publisher of The Intercept, which published its story based on a document allegedly provided by Winner after receiving it anonymously. The Fund is committed to supporting legal fights where key principles of press freedom are at stake, including the defense of journalistic sources like Winner facing this Espionage Act charge.


Winner, 25, is an Air Force veteran and recipient of the Air Force Commendation Medal for those who have “distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement and service.” She is universally described by friends and family as a “patriot”.


She is currently being denied bail on the basis that she is a flight risk, despite assurances from her family, and their offer of their 20-acre Southern Texas ranch as collateral.


“We believe the prosecution is trying to demoralize Reality and her family by denying her bail,” said Rainey Reitman, open Internet advocate and co-founder of Stand with Reality. “They’re punishing her with months in jail, and denying her the opportunity to fully participate in her defense preparations, all before a jury hears the merits of the government’s case.”


Stand with Reality was founded by three individuals dedicated to open government, free expression, civil liberties, and the rule of law:

  • Jeff Paterson, a Marine veteran and web developer, has spent the last 11 years as the project director of Courage to Resist, which provides legal and advocacy assistance to military war resisters.

  • Trevor Timm, a lawyer and free speech advocate, is the co-founder and executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which helps defend the rights of journalists and whistleblowers worldwide.

  • Rainey Reitman, a writer and privacy advocate, leads the advocacy team for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization, and works as a nonprofit consultant.


For complete campaign information visit: https://StandWithReality.org
New Yorkers Show Solidarity for Reality Winner, NSA Contractor Charged Under Espionage Act

New Yorkers Show Solidarity for Reality Winner, NSA Contractor Charged Under Espionage Act

New York, NY — The indictment of NSA contractor Reality Leigh Winner may be the opening salvo in the Trump Administration’s self-described war on leaks. Reality is facing a serious charge under the Espionage Act for allegedly sharing an NSA report on Russian attempts to compromise the 2016 US Presidential election.  Concerned New Yorkers and political activists will show their support for Reality on Wednesday afternoon by gathering on the south steps of New York’s Union Square to declare they #StandWithReality 

When: 2:30pm EST, TODAY, Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Where: Union Square Park (South Steps), 101 East 14th Street, New York, NY 10003 

What: Vigil in support of Reality Leigh Winner, typographic placards will spell out #STANDWITHREALITY 

Who: Concerned New Yorkers in support of Reality Winner hosted by People for Bernie Sanders, Courage Foundation, Democrats.com, and The Sparrow Project

Why: On June 5th, 2017, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the arrest of 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner, a federal contractor in Augusta, Georgia (USA), on charges of allegedly sharing an NSA report on Russian military intelligence’s hacking efforts during the final days of the  2016 election with a news outlet.  Reality Winner deserves widespread support as she faces an administration that has openly declared war on journalists and their sources.

Laura Poitras & Edward Snowden Awarded 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling

Laura Poitras & Edward Snowden Awarded 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, The Ridenhour Prizes announced that Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras will be jointly awarded the 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling for exposing the US government’s vast warrantless surveillance operation. The revelations sparked a debate on the constitutionality of mass surveillance, and how technology has transformed the parameters of individual privacy.

In reflecting upon its decision, the awards committee said, “We have selected Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras for their work in exposing the NSA’s illegal and unconstitutional bulk collection of the communications of millions of people living in the United States. Their act of courage was undertaken at great personal risk and has sparked a critical and transformative debate about mass surveillance in a country where privacy is considered a constitutional right. We particularly wanted to salute the role that Poitras has played in this story, as we feel that her contribution has not been adequately recognized by the American media.

“We want to take this opportunity to also salute Glenn Greenwald, Barton Gellman, Ewen MacAskill and the other journalists involved with this incredibly complex story on both sides of the Atlantic, who under tremendous governmental pressure have worked tirelessly to make the world aware of the true scope of the surveillance state.”

Snowden, who had worked first as a computer specialist for the CIA and then as a contractor for the NSA, had grown increasingly disillusioned by his first-hand experience of the government’s abuse of privacy.  And he had watched as the traditional oversight bodies – the courts and the Congress – had abdicated their constitutional responsibility to rein in unlawful executive-branch conduct.

“Authority cannot be legitimate if it is not accountable,” said Snowden upon hearing that he had been awarded The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling. “Public awareness of the NSA’s unconstitutional activities is leading to the first significant intelligence reforms in nearly four decades. These revelations remind us that there are moments in history when a free press is our last line of defense against unlawful government activities carried out in secret and in our name.

“It is a privilege to be welcomed into the ranks of the Ridenhour awardees, people who have inspired us through their fearless commitment to truth-telling. I’m especially grateful to be honored alongside Laura Poitras, whose brilliant work over the last year has changed what the public thinks about living under surveillance.”

Once he had made his decision to release documents exposing illegal NSA activity to specific journalists, Snowden chose his contacts with great care. He turned to Poitras for her fearless reporting in the post-9/11 era. Poitras, said Snowden, “demonstrated the courage, personal experience and skill needed to handle what is probably the most dangerous assignment any journalist can be given—reporting on the secret misdeeds of the most powerful government in the world—making her an obvious choice.” Poitras was the first to establish encrypted contact with Snowden and helped to initiate safe lines of communications with other journalists.

In addition to providing journalists with evidence documenting NSA abuses, Snowden made the unprecedented decision to not hide his identity, but rather to reveal himself as the source of the disclosures.  In early June 2013, Poitras and the Guardian’s Greenwald and MacAskill traveled to Hong Kong to meet Snowden.

“Being entrusted by Edward Snowden with disclosures he risked his life to reveal to the public has been the most profound and humbling experience of my life,” Poitras said, on hearing that she and Snowden had been awarded the prize. “Reporting on this story alongside Glenn Greenwald has been rewarding and mind-blowing.  I share this award with Glenn. People are defined by their actions. Ron Ridenhour learned of the massacre in My Lai and revealed it. Edward Snowden saw a system of mass suspicionless surveillance and exposed it. Without their courage we would know of neither.”

The first story, written by Greenwald and published by the Guardian on June 6, 2013 revealed that the NSA wascollecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top-secret court order. Subsequent reporting in the Guardian and the Washington Post exposed previously unknown programs such as PRISM, which allows the government warrantless access to the servers of such internet giants as Google, Yahoo and Facebook, and XKeyscore, which supports the wide-reaching collection of online data, from search histories to emails and online chats.

With The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling we are also recognizing the importance of Poitras’s work as a documentary filmmaker focusing on America post 9/11.  Since 2006 she has been subjected to repeated interrogations and detentions at US borders. Poitras currently lives in Berlin where she is editing the final film in a trilogy on post 9/11, a documentary on surveillance. Along with Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, she is a co-Founding Editor at The Intercept.

Snowden left Hong Kong on June 23 en route to Latin America, accompanied by Wikileaks journalist Sarah Harrison. While transiting in Moscow, Snowden was denied onward travel because his passport had been revoked. He spent more than a month in the transit area of Sheremetyevo airport and applied for asylum in more than 20 countries before being granted temporary asylum in Russia for one year. He currently lives in Moscow while he is unable to travel.

Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras will be awarded the 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling on Wednesday, April 30th at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The event is presented in partnership with The Fund for Constitutional Government, The Project On Government Oversight and The Government Accountability Project. It is open to press.

About The Ridenhour Prizes

The Ridenhour Prizes recognize and encourage those who persevere in acts of truth-telling that protect the public interest, promote social justice, or illuminate a more just vision of society. The Prizes are named after investigative journalist Ron Ridenhour, to commemorate his lifetime of fearless truth-telling and to inspire others to do the same.

In 1969, Vietnam veteran Ron Ridenhour wrote a letter to Congress and the Pentagon describing the horrific events at My Lai — the infamous massacre of the Vietnam War. Although the upper echelons of the military establishment resisted his revelations, his dogged persistence eventually brought the scandal to the attention of the American public and the world at large.

Ridenhour later became a respected investigative journalist, winning the George Polk Award for Investigative Journalism in 1987 for a yearlong investigation of a New Orleans tax scandal. He died suddenly in 1998 at the age of 52. At the time of his death, he was working on an article for the London Review of Books, had co-produced a story on state militias for NBC’s Dateline, and had just delivered a series of lectures commemorating the 30th anniversary of My Lai.

The Ridenhour Prizes were established by The Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation in partnership with The Fund for Constitutional Government, Government Accountability Project, and The Project on Government Oversight. For more information, visit www.ridenhour.org.

About The Nation Institute

A nonprofit media center, The Nation Institute is dedicated to strengthening the independent press and advancing social justice and civil rights. Our dynamic range of programs includes a bestselling book publishing imprint, Nation Books; our award-winning Investigative Fund, which supports groundbreaking investigative journalism; the widely read and syndicated website TomDispatch; the Victor S. Navasky Internship Program at The Nation magazine; and Journalism Fellowships that fund over 25 high-profile reporters every year. Work produced by The Nation Institute has sparked Congressional hearings, new legislation, FBI investigations and the resignation of government officials, and has a regular impact on the most urgent social and political issues of our day. For more information, visit www.nationinstitute.org.

About the Fertel Foundation

Energized by a passion for weaving ideas and people together, the Fertel Foundation, based in New York and New Orleans, has a special interest in initiatives from which new communities and new insights may emerge and those that challenge entrenched communities of power. The New Orleans-based foundation, established in 1999, also helps rebuild a better New Orleans — and create national models — in a post-Katrina world. For more information, visit www.fertel.com.

Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight, will have limited availability for interviews. To speak to Brian, or to RSVP to attend the 11th Annual Ridenhour Prizes Ceremony and Luncheon in DC, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.716.1953 or christina@fitzgibbonmedia.com

New Yorkers Declare “I Stand With Edward Snowden”: Dozens Rally & Draw Positive Media Attention for NSA Whistleblower

New Yorkers Declare “I Stand With Edward Snowden”: Dozens Rally & Draw Positive Media Attention for NSA Whistleblower

[NEW YORK, NY]  At 12:00pm EST activists, journalists and concerned New Yorkers assembled at New York’s Union Square for a rally in solidarity with National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower, Edward Snowden. Snowden, a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton and the source behind The Guardian‘s near-weeklong stretch of blockbuster scoops highlighting PRISM and similar pervasive surveillance programs under the authority of the NSA, has become a household name overnight. Similarly, this revelation has created a groundswell of concern for Snowden’s welfare, who is currently seeking refuge in Hong Kong and may in the near future require political asylum from a criminal investigation opened yesterday, 6/9/2013, by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). The call to “Stand With Edward Snowden”, which was issued online shortly after journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald published Snowden’s video testimonial, is the first of what is expected to be many events spanning multiple cities, in support of the NSA whistleblower.

“You have to make a determination about what is important to you…” said Snowden in his prerecorded interview published yesterday, “if living un-freely, but comfortably is something that you are willing to accept —and I think that many of us are, its the human nature …you can get up every day, you can go to work, you can collect your large paycheck for relatively little work against the public interest and go to sleep at night after watching your shows— but if you realize that’s the world that you helped create, and it’s gonna get worse with the next generation, and the next generation who extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture of oppression, you realize that you might be willing to accept any risk, and it does not matter what the outcome is so long as the public gets to make their own decisions about how that is applied.”

Organizers of today’s rally hope the assembly (which drew a few dozen despite torrential rain) will do more than lionize Snowden, they hope to use the event to continue the conversation Snowden started regarding the preservation of 4th Ammendment protections of personal privacy in an age of new media. “As young people in the digital era, it is imperitive that we have an understanding of what happens to the data we create and post, with or without our consent,” said rally organizer Yoni Miller. Moreover, the activists want to make sure that these grievances are not co-opted by partisan narratives, “It’s good these revelations are happening under President Obama,” said NYC activist Astra Taylor, “so we can see that this is structural, instead of blaming a Republican villain & praying for Democratic rescue.”

Taylor’s concerns are mirrored in-part by Snowden, who indicated to The Guardian that he was hopeful these surveillance systems would have been “reined in” when President Obama was elected, but was later heartbroken when he saw them expand further under the Obama administration. “The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change.” said Snowden, “People will see, in the media, all of these disclosures, they know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society, and global society, but they wont be willing to take the risks nessicarily to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”

“Edward Snowden chose to willfully free dark side national security information as a brave and courageous act of selfless civil disobedience,” said former NSA executive director, Thomas Drake. Snowden’s actions and the resulting threat of prosecution he faces are familiar to Drake, who in 2010 was arrested under the U.S. Espionage Act for publicly challenging a similar data-vacuuming project called Trailblaizer. While the Trailblazer project was eventually cancelled due to budget bloat and missed goals, it was later linked to a warrantless wiretapping program under the Bush Administration code named “Stellar Wind”. This program continues today under the code names RAGTIME and RAGTIME-P, the later acronym applies specifically to domestic data collection, the “P” suffix stands for “Patriot” a reference to the USA Patriot Act. Under RAGTIME-P the NSA appears to be using an interpretation of §215 of the Patriot Act to grant themselves the legal authority to conduct domestic intelligence gathering. On June 6, 2013 Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), author of the USA Patriot Act, expressed deep concern over this interpretation of §215 in a press release and letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Chris Hedges, who served for decades as a foreign corespondent for The New York Times, has witnessed several foreign democratic governments ebb towards a creeping surveillance state.  In recent years, Hedges has warned that similar transitions could happen here in the United States if left unchecked.  When asked about Snowden he remarked,  “Edward Snowden, like Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, has joined the ranks of the hunted and the persecuted because he named and documented the crimes of the state. His defiance of the control and monitoring of our lives by the security and surveillance makes him an American hero.”

The organizers of today’s rally underscore that Snowden’s leak was selective and not reckless in nature. The activists also have expressed concern over the possibility of future attempts to demonize the whistleblower, and encouraged others to act preemptively to assure that does not happen. Lee Camp, a celebrated comedian and organizer with Occupy Wall Street echoed these sentiments, “Let’s get ahead of this story and let the world know Edward Snowden is a hero before the media and government get to work maligning him.”

Today’s rally is just one example of individuals taking proactive action in support of Snowden. Others, like Icelandic Parlementarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, are going one step further by beginning the legal process of obtaining political asylum for Snowden should he chose to seek it. “I stand with Edward Snowden because what he did is of tremendous importance to everybody on this planet, especially those in the USA.” said Jonsdottir, “I will do everything in my power to find ways to shelter him from the wrath of governments who want to carry on with their culture of secrecy even when it becomes obvious it is impossible and unjustifiable to invade the privacy of their civilian populace. I challenge other lawmakers of conscious to do the same.”

It is unforeseen what will become of Edward Snowden. His $200k/year job at Booz Allen Hamilton became available just days after first contacting journalists, and in leaving his home in Hawaii he has left both financial security and his loved ones behind. Today’s rally provided New Yorkers an opportunity to continue the conversation surrounding domestic spying on US citizens to which Snowden provided a catalyst for, and gave those attending an opportunity to thank him for this courageous and selfless act.

“There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich.” — Edward Snowden

» Full disclosure: While The Sparrow Project did not accept any compensation for this release, and does not represent Edward Snowden in any capacity, The Sparrow Project has provided media relations services to MP Birgitta Jonsdottir in the past, and upon request will continue to field future requests for MP Jonsdottir, including those pertaining to political asylum for Edward Snowden as they relate to MP Jonsdottir.