Amnesty International Denounces Obama Administration’s Prosecution Of Snowden

100px-Amnesty_International_logo.svg228px-Picture_of_Edward_SnowdenAmnesty International has issued a statement criticizing the Obama Administration’s prosecution of Edward Snowden. While the media has largely yielded to demands from the White House not to call Snowden a “whistleblower,” Amnesty International views him in this light and specifically objects to the use of the Espionage Act by the Obama Administration in this case. I discuss the charges against Snowden in a column today in USA Today.

Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International stated that “No one should be charged under any law for disclosing information of human rights violations by the US government. Such disclosures are protected under the rights to information and freedom of expression.” The organization further stated that “[h]is forced transfer to the USA would put him at great risk of human rights violations and must be challenged.”

The position of Amnesty International could prove helpful to Snowden. Even with countries with an extradition treaty with the United States, there is an exception for criminal charges viewed as political or cases involving a dissident. Moreover, countries can consider the denial of due process in the requesting country. Many Americans may be surprised to learn that the United Stats is increasing viewed as a country that is a menace to due process in the denial of basic rights and a heavily skewed legal system in national security cases. It is important to remember that President Obama has retained the claimed authority to send some people to real courts and some to military tribunals on his discretion alone. The use of the Espionage Act only magnifies those concerns from many civil libertarians.

The charge appears in part a desire to paint Snowden in the most sinister light. The White House and its allies appear surprised by how, despite such efforts, many Americans and people around the world view Snowden as not just a whistleblower but a hero. Even if you do not view him in such a light, he does appear to be a source of a journalist. President Obama is responsible for 70 percent of all charges brought under the 1917 act — targeting sources of journalists. This comes after his administration was found to have put journalists under surveillance and called one reporter a possible criminal conspirator for speaking with a source. The Justice Department would have been wiser to focus on the crimes of theft and disclosure of classified information.

The Administration could not be working harder to create a defense to extradition for Snowden. The rhetoric and the charges in the case make this look more and more political and undermine assurances of fair treatment in the eyes of many abroad. This may be why the United States is now putting such pressure on Russia to return him in transit. Once he arrives and is admitted into a country, a long extradition process will follow where these issues can be explored. That can be avoided if he is simply put on a plane to New York. Russia however appears not inclined to help according to reports out this morning.

Source: Amnesty

99 thoughts on “Amnesty International Denounces Obama Administration’s Prosecution Of Snowden”

  1. I agree it would likely play out in the air as you describe. The political fallout would be where the intrigue would lie.

    The US is really destroying its creditility by strong arming these countries into submission with respect to Mr. Snowden. It would be certainly entertaining to see one of these countries to declare exactly what the US Gov’t threatened them with and then make an official announcement that they accepted the fact that the US would sanction them and spelled out what those were, making the US look like a bully, and welcoming Snowden in.

    A person can really take the wind out of a bully’s sails by agreeing to the punishment up front.

  2. Darren,
    Interesting question. I think AF1 would ignore local ATC and head for the nearest international airspace. They know that even a well armed country would never scramble jets to force it to land. There is a rather large difference between AF1, which is a Boeing 747, and the Dassault Falcon 900 used by the Bolivian President.

    Additionally, it seems reasonable to assume Air Force One has a much larger and more deadly system of defenses than what is essentially a French made business jet.

  3. It would be interesting to see what Air Force 1 would do if ATC in some country ordered it to land.

  4. Consider that many countries would consider such an abuse an act of war . . .

  5. The governments of both Venezuela and Nicaragua have offered Edward Snowden asylum. The statements seem to be carefully worded, but the meaning is clear. When the US caused the airplane of the head of state of another sovereign nation to be forced down for a search that violated all kinds of diplomatic law and protocol, what could have possibly gone wrong?

    Now I am just waiting for some other country to order Air Force One down for a search. Anyone want to take any bets on that ever happening in the real world? Here is a clip from the story on MSNBC:

    The presidents of Venezuela and Nicaragua offered Friday to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, one day after leftist South American leaders gathered to denounce the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane over Europe amid reports that the American was aboard.

    Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua made their offers during separate speeches in their home countries Friday afternoon. Snowden has asked for asylum in numerous countries, including Nicaragua and Venezuela.

    “As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live (without) … persecution from the empire,” Maduro said, referring to the United States. He made the offer during a speech marking the anniversary of Venezuela’s independence. It was not immediately clear if there were any conditions to Venezuela’s offer.

    In Nicaragua, Ortega said he was willing to make the same offer “if circumstances allow it.” Ortega didn’t say what the right circumstances would be when he spoke during a speech in Managua.


    1. OS,

      If this was ordered by Obama then I think there are grounds for impeachment. I am astounded by this srory and I don’t astound easily.

  6. Sometimes you hear it said: “If you have nothing illegal & nothing to hide, who cares what the government knows about you!” Well, lets turn that around & apply it to the government. In fact, an honest government would have very few secrets from its citizens or the world in general. Every war it ever had was a failure to negotiate or a mean spirited criminal attitude in the first place. The distance between the good citizen & the government has gotten so far apart since 9/11, the biggest mean spirited criminal act perpetrated by our government, at least since WWII. Soon they will top that I suppose. Some of the presidential decrees of recent years could make this one of the worst places in the world to live if a declaration of emergency is made, second only to a few African & Arab countries, along with North Korea. Well, our government is definitely not our good priest, so there is your answer to the ‘nothing to hide’ quote.

  7. Now if I heard this right this morning….. The reason we are in want of Snowden is because he might hold some secrets that the US does not want divulged….. Plus…. It kinda screwed up any hopes that the US had in trying to convience china not only to not spy on its citizens but to not take the spying into international realms….. I think I heard that right….. You don’t say….

  8. Ralph, I’m glad to see you have a sense of humor. I’ve seen you here on occasion but really don’t know your personality. When someone can take a lighthearted joke, or more importantly engage in self deprecating humor, they’re ok in my book. Will you be my “real friend?” What’s your miniature golf handicap?

  9. I was fascinated by Charles Whitman, the UT Tower sniper. I have never been a gun nut. I am, contrary to what a few folks think here, a happy, easy going, live and let live, guy. I spoke @ length about this fascination w/ an abnormal psychology professor I had in college. I had this prof for 2 classes and we clicked well. We broke it down, and he thought what fascinated me most was the geometry and remoteness. The geometry being Whitman had a very elevated vantage point that gave him a perfect angle for many potential victims. The remoteness was simply, even w/ a scope, the faces of the victims were obscured. This professor was a caring man, and saw how this dark side troubled me. After several lengthy conversations he said to me, “Nick, you are one of the least likely people to ever do this something like this. Speaking about your dark side openly and honestly is rare, and in doing that you have faced up to it.” He then said something that I remember to this day. “Nick, your mind will do something on occasion to help you cope w/ this dark side.” I have noticed that when I go to a new city I look @ buildings and assess them as a sniper’s nest.

    This is not a “possibly false” anecdote. This is not a “Can you top this” pathology. This is the flat ass truth, as is everything I say here. This was difficult for me to write about because it’s the kind of thing some folks here might exploit. They accessing their dark side. This is something I’m certainly not proud of, but as I dealt w/ people’s dark sides over my career, I realize a darkness sits within all of us. How we deal w/ it is key on what kind of life we will lead. I have never owned a rifle. However, I have owned numerous video cameras. I mentioned last week how geometry was the only math I really got, and liked it; and how people of my genre are often horrible @ algebra. Blouise stepped forward to say she was the algebra ace and geometry bust. This understanding angles, vantage points, etc helped me “shoot” many plaintiffs who were liars about their injuries in personal injury suits. I shot them w/ my video camera. It’s funny. I have 2 nieces who graduated from UT. My sister lived in Austin for years. However, I’ve never gone to the campus. I don’t want to see where so many were killed by a man who acted on his dark side. Pretty weird shit..I know. I can take some ballbusting on this. I think that’s a good way to deal w/ darkness, shining some light on it, laughing @ it. But, please be prudent. Fire away!

  10. Nick, you say “I see a wise Guest Blogger paired us up last night. How about miniature golf for our first date? the reversal of DOMA may be a sign from above.”


  11. There’s a huge difference between thanking a friend for leading one to a new fact and being obsequious in pursuit of allies. Darren is already my friend and has been for much longer than you’ve been here. I have no need to curry his favor, nick. When you get over your anger and get some real friends, you might come to understand the distinction. We’re all pullin’ for ya.

Comments are closed.