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. Hmmmmm. Apparently such things do exist. At least for Dragonball Z and larger franchises like Sailor Moon. It started before the Chinese animation industry got established.

    Thanks, Darren. You led me round about to learning something new. I always dig that.

  2. I don’t know if the Japanese anime market is big in China, Darren. I’d imagine it’s not. They have their own domestic animation industry. It’s not only huge, they’re a bit protectionist of it. Given their history, I’d think selling Japanese anything in China is problematic at best.

  3. Gene wondered:
    It does make one wonder how “giggling like a school girl” translates into Mandarin
    You can watch the Chinese dubbed version of Sailor Moon and find out 🙂

  4. Mike Spindell,

    I think that Friedrich Nietzsche had a few words of wisdom applicable to our erstwhile monster-slayer, Barack Obama:

    “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

    Along somewhat similar lines, Sam Adams once said that America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” If only he could have lived to see America go abroad just so as to needlessly create them.

    1. “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

      Michael Murry,

      When I was in therapy and then in training as a psychotherapist one of the principles we discussed was look at what someone loathes in others and most times it’s an aspect of themselves that they loathe but won’t let themselves admit to. I think that was what Nietzsche was getting at above. America decries the governmental systems of many in the world, yet has set up similar systems at home. I understand that in my own psyche there exists the possibility of becoming a monster and it is the reason I gave up a potential political career. Power is always corrupting and because of that societies must learn to share it, rather invest it in one entity or person.

  5. There was just so much irony w/ Bubba having signed that into law.

  6. Ralph, 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.

  7. Anyone taking the government’s side on this is a suppressive AH. Unfortunately there are a few even on this blog.

  8. Mike,

    It does make one wonder how “giggling like a school girl” translates into Mandarin.

  9. I had to chuckle when I read this in the UK Guardian …………..

    Speaking earlier on Tuesday, Lavrov (Russian Foreign Mnister) insisted Russia did not help Snowden travel: “I would like to say right away that we have no relation to either Mr Snowden or to his relationship with American justice or to his movements around the world.

    “He chose his route on his own, and we found out about it, as most here did, from mass media,” said Lavrov.

    “We consider the attempts we are now seeing to blame the Russian side for breaking US laws and being almost in on the plot totally baseless and unacceptable, and even an attempt to threaten us,” he said.

    China’s top state newspaper had earlier praised Snowden for “tearing off Washington’s sanctimonious mask” and rejected accusations that Beijing had facilitated his departure from Hong Kong.

    The strongly worded front-page piece in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist party, responded to harsh criticism of China from the US for allowing Snowden to flee.

    The Chinese government has said it is gravely concerned by Snowden’s allegations that the US has hacked into many networks in Hong Kong and China, including Tsinghua University, which hosts one of the country’s internet hubs, and Chinese mobile network companies. It said it had taken the issue up with Washington.

    “Not only did the US authorities not give us an explanation and apology, it instead expressed dissatisfaction at the Hong Kong special administrative region for handling things in accordance with law,” wrote Wang Xinjun, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science in the People’s Daily commentary.

    “In a sense, the United States has gone from a ‘model of human rights’ to ‘an eavesdropper on personal privacy’, the ‘manipulator’ of the centralised power over the international internet, and the mad ‘invader’ of other countries’ networks,” the People’s Daily said.

    The White House said allowing Snowden to leave was “a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the US-China relationship”.

    The People’s Daily, which reflects government thinking of the government, said: China could not accept “this kind of dissatisfaction and opposition”.

    “The world will remember Edward Snowden,” it said. “It was his fearlessness that tore off Washington’s sanctimonious mask.”

    ————————————————————- ———————-
    I guess many people are now seeing the Chinese and the Russians as the good guys – at least with this fiasco.

    I wonder after this will Washington and others be preaching to The PRC and Russia on human rights?

    Unfortunately Snowdon has ruined his life completely and the US Government will have to make a spectacle out of him as a clear message to others that may want to follow him.

    He will be safe no where . Ultimately I believe he will mysteriously wind up dead as a result of his actions and the US will continue to perform their spying programs unimpeded because there is no one or body capable of or willing to stop these activities. This President cetainly will not; nor will Congress – to state the bleeding obvious. So it is business as usual folks ….. and you are going to stop it how exactly?

    All the discussion and debate centres around Snowden and his actions and, sadly, hardly anyone is seriously discussing and questioning the legalities of what is going on with these excessive spying programs. But then you can fool most of the public most of the time.

    1. “In a sense, the United States has gone from a ‘model of human rights’ to ‘an eavesdropper on personal privacy’, the ‘manipulator’ of the centralised power over the international internet, and the mad ‘invader’ of other countries’ networks,” the People’s Daily said”


      Can you imagine the glee within the Chinese government as this whole sad affair plays out. For so many years our country has played a human rights card against China, acting as if we are on the moral high ground. China is an oppressive country, but we haven’t had the right to claim moral superiority and have become almost equally oppressive.

  10. Is journalism being criminalised? Interview with Dirty Wars author Jeremy Scahill
    Published on Jun 25, 2013

    In the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leak of NSA files, Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield and featured reporter in the new documentary film of the same name, says under the Obama administration journalists are being intruded upon and whistleblowers are being charged with crimes. Scahill is also a national security correspondent for the Nation.

  11. Some here have complained that there are no stories on recent SCOTUS decisions. There’s really not much to discuss. I’ve ‘splained how the SCOTUS works and how it makes its decisions, and they are 100% predictable. SCOTUS Rule: If one party is big business or big government and the other is a regular citizen, the citizen ALWAYS LOSES. That is simple enough. It does not matter what the facts or circumstances are, or even what other Circuit Courts have ruled. The SCOTUS will ALWAYS find a way to reward big business or big government and punish the ordinary citizen. Although the 5-4 composition is often behind these decisions, ALL of the justices are 100% behind this rule and only make a pretext that they are not beholden to it. They will sometimes do a round-robin where a “liberal” judge is chosen to render the decision against the little guy or the little business.

    Let’s take a very recent case to see if you understand the principle. One party is a ,big manufacturer of generic drugs and the other is a woman who suffered skin burns and was nearly blinded by the generic pills she took.

    Hmmmmm. This is very difficult to decide, right? I mean you have to know the facts, the circumstances, the law, and all that complicated stuff, right? Nope. Just apply my rock solid, ineluctable operating principle of the SCOTUS, and you will KNOW with absolute certainty what the SCOTUS will decide.

    Okay…. here’s the story…..

    The Supreme Court on Monday eliminated the last major avenue for consumers to seek damages for faulty generic drugs, giving manufacturers a broad shield from liability for the low-cost versions of brand-name prescription medicines.

    In a 5-4 decision, the court tossed out a $21-million jury verdict won by Karen Bartlett, a New Hampshire woman who suffered horrible skin burns over most of her body and was nearly blinded after taking a pill to relieve shoulder pain.

    The court majority conceded that the woman’s plight was tragic. But the justices said the Food and Drug Administration had approved the drug sulindac for sale and that federal approval trumped a state’s consumer-protection laws, under which she had sued.

    “You go to the pharmacy, and in most states they substitute a generic drug for the name-brand drug because it’s cheaper. And when they do that, they wipe out your rights,” said Arthur Bryant, executive director of public interest law firm Public Justice.

    See, it’s easy when you know how the justitutes on the SCOTUS operate.

  12. Snowden was right to flee, knowing that this administration has charged more whistle blowers with espionage than all other administrations combined. If the Obama administration showed any kind of sanity in regards to how it deals with leaks and whistle blowers, Snowden might very well have simply released the documents and turned himself in. But alas, the Obama were were promised is not the Obama we got…

  13. The more I think about this case, the more I believe it could have been handled better and the gov’t could have had the result it was looking for.

    It might have been a lesser risk to have some trusted interlocutor contact Mr. Snowden behind the scenes and outside the scope of the media with a deal that both could live with. The deal would have been that if Snowden returned to the US and handed over whatever it was he was carrying with him and that he not reveal any “actual” secrets that could endanger military or national security in the true and real sense, that he could plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge that would carry no jail time but he would have to pay a $50,000 fine which of course he could have supporters on the internet raise for him.

    This way it would have avoided the risk that he would have been intercepted by the Russians, the US would have it’s conviction, and Snowden could return from exile and start a new life back in the US. Both sides could win something or save face. But probably more importantly, he would not go over to the other side.

    1. You and Nick share the saame political values so you’re not alone here Ralph.

  14. I don’t know nuthin bout birthin babies so quit asking me to post things like Supreme Court cases. My name is JT and I don’t know nuthin bout birthin babies.

  15. YO Turley: Supreme Court decisions this week. Weekend Update! When?
    Oh, there was this little old case which set aside the Voting Rights Act!

    Are we a numnuts law blog here?

  16. The fact is Snowden did break some laws telling us about a program we largely already knew about. Can you imagine the heavy artillery fire Mr. Obama would be taking from the right if Snowden were not pursued? Then imagine the potentially damaging affects on the mid-terms. Obama probably figures he can withstand and weather the criticism from civil libertarians and the left and follow the law without damaging Democrat down-ticket races in 2014. And he’s probably right.


    Snowden hid copies of secret NSA documents in case something happens to him

    Published time: June 25, 2013 19:37
    Reuters / Tatyana Makeyeva

    A trove of classified documents supplied to The Guardian newspaper by NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been copied and shared with several people around the globe, journalist Glenn Greenwald told The Daily Beast on Tuesday.

    Article continues…

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