Edward Snowden

Disclosed top secret documents pertaining to NSA surveillance of global communications, sometimes in collusion with major tech companies like Google, Facebook and AOL.

I’m not going to hide. Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest. – Edward Snowden [Source]

Thomas Drake

The government accused Drake of retaining classified information in violation of the Espionage Act. He blew the whistle on waste and fraud related to the NSA’s Trailblazer program, which is a private contractor boondoggle then-director Michael Hayden went with over another program, ThinThread, that was a much cheaper program and would not have violated citizens’ constitutional right to privacy.

The world keeps getting smaller and smaller as the noose starts to tighten and you become the center point of their wrath. They’re after you and they’re now going to actually use the justice system and abuse the justice system in a way to make sure you’re going to pay a high price. – Thomas Drake [Source]

Shamai Leibowitz

Leibowitz discovered documents that he says showed the FBI was “committing illegal and unconstitutional acts.” Instead of going through the chain of command, he showed the documents to a journalist. What he tried to reveal was never published, but he ultimately pled guilty to violating the Espionage Act and was sentenced to 20 months in prison. [Source]

In my case, my family and I pleaded with the DOJ lawyers to avoid a prison term, agree to a lesser punishment and put this case to rest without any media attention. But the FBI and DOJ were hell-bent on imprisoning me and splashing it all over the media. The ink was not even dry on my plea agreement before they ran to the media with a press release, announcing to the whole world how the 20-month prison sentence will teach me – and any future whistle-blowers – a great lesson. But this punitive strategy, this desire to demonize and imprison people at all costs, is so wrong and misguided that it backfired. – Shamai Leibowitz [Source]

Private Chelsea Manning

Manning disclosed US diplomatic cables, battlefield reports and other documents of lower classification pertaining to American military and diplomatic efforts to Wikileaks, most notably the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs and the Collateral Murder video. She also provided copies of detainees assessment briefs from Guantanamo Bay to WikiLeaks.

I only speculated to where I was going.  I mean, I didn’t know if I was going– I didn’t think I was going anywhere CONUS [Continental United States].  I thought I was going to another– I was hoping Germany– Mannheim, Germany was a possible option. […] I had been conveyed some serious charges, but I didn’t really have a lot of guidance legally with Captain Bouchard, because of the limitations of the telephonic– and having the guards there listening in– so I just speculated and guessed. I mean, I have worked– I don’t know– I did not know how the American detention worked for, you know, American confinees.  I knew for other detainees, but not for me– not like soldiers for court-martial. – Pfc. Bradley Manning [Source]

Stephen Kim

Kim revealed classified information on North Korea to Fox News reporter James Rosen. He is believed to have provided information to Rosen that showed US intelligence officials were aware that North Korea would respond to United Nations sanctions by engaging in more nuclear testing. (Rosen was labeled an ‘aider, abettor and co-conspirator’ in the leak by the Justice Department). [Source]

In this case, the government has fied a charge under the Espionage Act, a more modern statute that the Founders would have viewed as a charge of treason. However, the government has brought this charge-derived from the power to address treason-without actually charging treason under the United States Code or providing the procedural guarantees for a treason prosecution set forth in the Constitution. – Abbe Lowell, counsel for Stephen Kim [Source]

Jeffrey Sterling

Sterling is believed to have provided information to New York Times reporter James Risen about Iran’s nuclear program, including an effort in 200 to disrupt it by sending in a former Russian scientist to give those involved in the program a blueprint for a “nuclear triggering device with a hidden design flaw.” (The Obama Justice Department has fought in the courts to have a judge require Risen to testify against Sterling.) [Source]

The fact that the information at issue may be classified is not conclusive and is insufficient to carry the burden of proving “national defense information.” As a result, unless the defendant knows what “national defense information” is at issue, he cannot prepare for trial or protect his constitutional right against double jeopardy.” – Edward B. MacMahon, Jr., counsel for Sterling [Source]

John Kiriakou

Kiriakou shared information related to a rendition operation with reporter Matthew Cole. He is a former CIA officer who blew the whistle on torture of suspected terrorists and was one of the first persons to publicly acknowledge that the US employed waterboarding. He is in prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania serving thirty months after he was forced into a situation where he found it best to plead guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) so he would not be jailed for 30 or 40 years and be unable to see his children grow.

The CIA leadership was furious that I blew the whistle on torture and the Justice Department never stopped investigating me from December 2007. I’ve been audited by the IRS every single year since 2007. The agency used their Office of Security to harass my wife when I published op-eds that the agency didn’t like and they never stopped trying to build a case against me. They found their opportunity and threw in a bunch of trumped up charges they knew they could bargain away and finally found something with which to prosecute me. – John Kiriakou [Source]

James Hitselberger

Hitselberger provided classified documents to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. At one point, the Hoover Institution library maintained a James F. Hitselberger Collection that included “political posters and leaflets that he gathered in pre-revolutionary Iran.”

The statute seeks to impose a criminal penalty on those who willfully retain documents containing information relating to the national defense. The phrase “relating to the national defense” covers such a massive quantity of information that the statute fails to draw a clear line between criminal and non-criminal conduct. – A.J Kramer, federal public defender representing Hitselberger [Source]