(By Deutsche Welle) On Thursday, Edward Snowden held a live online chat to answer questions about his revelations. The Courage Foundation, which hosted the chat, offers people a way to contribute to Snowden’s legal defense.
In response to the recent crackdown on national security whistle-blowers, concerned journalists and activists have created a new fund to protect sources from legal retribution. The Courage Foundation has begun assisting former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and plans on expanding its client base to other journalistic sources who are being prosecuted for their revelations.
The foundation runs a website for Snowden, where anonymous donations can be made to support his legal defense. According to the site, over $99,000 has been raised so far. Granted temporary asylum in Moscow after the US State Department cancelled his passport last summer, Snowden is the latest national security whistle-blower to be indicted by Washington under the US Espionage Act. If convicted, Snowden could face up to 30 years in prison.
Six other whistle-blowers have been prosecuted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act for passing along classified national security information to the press. Army Private Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley, was convicted under the Espionage Act and sentenced to 35 years in prison last July for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables and war logs to WikiLeaks. Journalists have sharply criticized the use of the Espionage Act against leakers, saying that it could lead to the criminalization of national security reporting.
The Courage Foundation, originally called the Journalistic Source Protection Defence Fund (JSPDF), has emerged in reaction to the aggressive crackdown on Snowden and organizations such as WikiLeaks by Western governments, particularly the US and the UK.
“Its origin was in the clear perception of most journalists, who are involved in sensitive issues, that there is as a serious problem of protection of sources, their own privacy – protection of stories as well for that matter,” Gavin MacFadyen, director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, told DW.
“It emerges out of that sense that nothing is sacrosanct anymore,” said MacFadyen, who sat on the JSPDF’s steering committee.