UN Independent Expert On Promotion Of Democracy Calls On Governments To Stop Persecuting Whistleblowers

from the take-that dept

Alfred de Zayas, who is the UN’s “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and international order” has put out quite a statement in support of President Obama’s decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence. But de Zayas didn’t stop there. He went on to point out that the US government and other governments have been persecuting many other whistleblowers around the world, including Ed Snowden and Julian Assange, and that should stop:

I welcome the commutation of sentence of Chelsea Manning and her forthcoming release in May. There are, however, many whistleblowers who have served the cause of human rights and who are still in prison in many countries throughout the world. It is time to recognize the contribution of whistleblowers to democracy and the rule of law and to stop persecuting them.

I call on Governments worldwide to put an end to multiple campaigns of defamation, mobbing and even prosecution of whistleblowers like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, the Luxleakers Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet and the tax corruption leaker Rafi Rotem, who have acted in good faith and who have given meaning to article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on freedom of expression. Whistleblowers who are serving prison sentence in many countries should be pardoned.

Whistleblowers are human rights defenders whose contribution to democracy and the rule of law cannot be overestimated. They serve democracy and human rights by revealing information that all persons are entitled to receive. A culture of secrecy is frequently also a culture of impunity. Because the right to know proclaimed in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is absolutely crucial to every democracy, whistleblowers should be protected, not persecuted.

The statement goes on for a few more paragraphs and concludes:

It is time for this abnormal and inhuman situation to end.

Of course, this kind of statement will mostly be ignored by those in power — and where not ignored, it will likely be mocked or attacked. But it is an important and useful statement. In the hype and buzz around these individuals, the underlying facts often get buried. But it remains the case that the individuals de Zayas named have focused on revealing to the public important information that powerful people have tried to keep secret, often exposing massive government overreach or outright lies.

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Comments on “UN Independent Expert On Promotion Of Democracy Calls On Governments To Stop Persecuting Whistleblowers”

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John Snape (profile) says:

I guess the question is...

I guess the question is, “what is treason and what is whistle-blowing?”

If releasing information indiscriminately is “whistle-blowing” we should just dump everything currently classified, because holding any state secrets thwarts the credo of “information that all persons are entitled to receive.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I guess the question is...

That is an incomplete understanding.

Whistle Blowing is not JUST about illegal, but also unethical behavior, or behaviors that run contrary to certain objectives.

Contrary, Ethical, Legal… these are all at the mercy of those acting as judge or jury. There is a big reason for the 1st where the US is concerned. Why do you think no nation wants anything similar in their constitutions?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I guess the question is...

As long as said information is released to the Press then in American you are supposed to be protect.

Not even state-secrets can trump the 1st.

Of course that only matters if your fellow citizens give a shit enough to prevent the government from wiping its ass with its own law.

So if the government wipes its ass with the constitution which incidentally is the document that grants them their power, should the citizens wipe their ass with the government?

Considering these things… one might ask, whos Government is it? If they can mistreat whistle-blowers with constitutional protections without much outcry… what else are they willing to do next?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I guess the question is...

Welcome to the party, the definition of treason is different for everyone. But in the US it has a very specific definition. Your definition is closer to Espionage NOT treason. Treason has to at least come from a citizen or a loyal subject, selling information to a foreign government can be ANYONE and is not necessarily treason.

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.”

K`Tetch (profile) says:

I love the inclusion of Assange, even though he’s not a whistleblower. He’s just a middleman, a publisher.

Nor is he being prosecuted for his actions there. he’s being prosecuted for his actions against two women, which can not (and should not) be handwaved aside because he’s decided to act as a middleman for some types of whistleblowing. Hell, I was pulled over last night for a simple (and safe) misunderstanding with a traffic light; I didn’t get a ticket (the state trooper saw it was a simple mistake, saw I didn’t hurt anyone, told me to be careful – the advice I give out in my ’10 rules for dealing with the police’ talks REALLY works), but if I did should I have claimed ‘whistleblowing supporter’ and pointed to de Zayas’ statement to get the ticket dismissed?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I believe the allegation is that Julian Assange is being pressed on trumped up charges as a result of doing things governments don’t like, ie, enabling whistleblowers.

Whether that is true (or say, the charges are true, but were engineered ass part of a sting operation to try and get something on him,) or what have you (choose your preferred level of conspiracy) it seems clear that either way government prosecution of JA is affected and colored by the fact that they really dislike him.

Skullduggery says:

Re: Re:

lol, you really believe that tripe?

The women in question have dropped any / all charges.
This is 100% the US putting pressure to have Assange arrested for anything that might stick for the 60 seconds it would take them to start the extradition process.

Please come back when you’ve exchanged your central processing unit for one that works.

K`Tetch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ok, just some problems with your claims (although I will admit they’re very common claims, so it’s understandable you’ve seen them).

“The women in question have dropped any / all charges.”
No they haven’t. In fact when the charges were dropped, they hired a lawyer and appealed to reinstate the charges.

There’s also the problem that without a complaint, there is no case. In which acse it would be easy for Assange to have his lawyer bring this up in court. And if you think he’s not has a chance at court to make this argument, you’re very much mistaken. In fact I’ve a little list of times when Assange has had the chance to officially put his claims to the courts to counter the charges. Wanna guess how many there have been?

Interview with prosecutor 30 August 2010
Interview with prosecutor 28 September 2010 (missed because he’d gone to the UK the evening before)
Interview with prosecutor week of October 11 2010 (arranged and then ignored by Assange
Appeal to Svea Court of Appeal 20 November 2010
Appeal to Swedish Supreme Court 30 November 2010
Extradition hearing 7-11 February 2011 City of Westminster Magistrates Court in the Belmarsh courthouse London.
High Court Appeal 12&13 July 2011
UK Supreme Court appeal 1&2 Feb 2012
Appeal to UK Supreme Court to re-open appeal 14 June 2012
(that’s 9 instances in the first two years, before he entered the Embassy, of which he took 7)
24 June 2014 – Stockholm district court
12 September 2014 – Svea court of appeal
10 November 2014 – Svea court of appeal (response)
8 December 2014 – Swedish Supreme Court
22 Feb 2016 – At this point, Assange makes another presentation to Swedish courts,
He appeals this in August 2016 to the Svea appeals court
then, November 14 2016 is the interview with prosecutors (or rather Ecuadorian officials asking questions from Sweden)

So that’s 16 straight instances where he could officially say ‘the women dropped the charges’. Well, let’s exclude the last because the Swedish government only got the transcript 2 weeks ago and is still translating it from Spanish (thats right, the interview was conducted in English, but Ecuador then translated it into Spanish and took 2 months to do so before handing it to Sweden, who then has to translate it to Swedish), so 15 instances to have raised that argument, and either it never occured to them, or it’s just not true.

“This is 100% the US putting pressure to have Assange arrested for anything that might stick for the 60 seconds it would take them to start the extradition process.”

As I explained on a detailed breakdown of his original offer I wrote Monday (and the above timeline comes from a response I made to a comment on that), there is no US Extradition request and never has been.

If there was, it would have been served BEFORE the extradition order from Sweden was completed (4 days before he escaped custody and absconded into the embassy) because Swedish law does not permit extradition for political offenses. He knows that, because that’s exactly why he applied for Swedish residency (and said he was going to make Sweden his new base) just 2 days before the allegations were made.

Also, just as a side note, if you’re afraid of being extradited tot he US, the one country you avoid is the UK, where the US only has to show ‘probable cause’, not evidence to get extradition.
It’s the perfect country if you’re an Australian (or other commonwealth country) looking to escape a nordic country though. The law type is different which makes extradition harder, plus staying in the Schengen zone has a limit of 90 days in a 6 month period, of which he was already 60 days in. The UK would allow him in for 6 months without needing a visa as a commonwealth citizen. And when you’re looking for a country to go to when you find you’re going to be arrested the following day, you don’t have time to apply for visas.

Oh, and let’s not forget that the DOJ has publically said (for years) there is no indictment for Assange and they’ve no intention of indicting him, because they can’t. And even if they did, they’d have had to present it (and get an extradition order) under the Speedy Trial act before the indictment expired (which is just over 2 months).

If you know the facts and laws concerned, you understand that every single claim of Assange’s is a lie. And he tells those lies because he knows he is desperately trying to avoid accountability for his actions. He literally beleives he’s above the law, because he seeks to enforce the law.

K`Tetch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

He has not been ‘charged’ because the day before he would have, he left the country suddenly.

In the Anglo system most of us here are more familiar with, yes, he would have been charged already at this point. At least, that’s the view of the UK judges when they considered that very question of ‘charging’, as I will now quote.

“Although we have approached the matter by asking the broad question posed by Lord Steyn as to whether Mr Assange was accused, it was the submission of Mr Assange that the court should ask the question asked by the Divisional Court in Ismail, namely whether a step had been taken which could fairly be described as the commencement of the prosecution. It is, in our view, clear that whilst Lord Steyn approved that approach, it was not the only approach to the question of whether he was an accused. The issue was to be addressed broadly on the facts. But, even if the court was constrained to determine whether someone was an accused by solely considering the question of whether the prosecution had commenced, we would not find it difficult to hold that looking at what has taken place in Sweden that the prosecution had commenced. Although it is clear a decision has not been taken to charge him, that is because, under Swedish procedure, that decision is taken at a late stage with the trial following quickly thereafter. In England and Wales, a decision to charge is taken at a very early stage; there can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged and thus criminal proceedings would have been commenced. If the commencement of criminal proceedings were to be viewed as dependent on whether a person had been charged, it would be to look at Swedish procedure through the narrowest of common law eyes. Looking at it through cosmopolitan eyes on this basis, criminal proceedings have commenced against Mr Assange.

In our view therefore, Mr Assange fails on the facts on this issue.”

Basically you can’t use the Anglo/common law definition of ‘charging’, and point to the Swedish circumstances of not charging him yet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That will be a double yes on both questions.

Politics have a nasty ability to blind people. When it comes to famous people, I have a lot of difficulty believing people when they say they were abused, and doubly so when Government gets involved.

The US has proven itself a liar and an eager villain when suited to be so.

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