FBI Attempts to Hold Sibel Edmonds’ Book Hostage

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Email: contact@whistleblowers.org
Phone: (202) 342-1902

FBI Attempts to Hold Sibel Edmonds’ Book Hostage

Agency Used Contracts to Censor Whistleblowers

WASHINGTON -
Today, the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) revealed that the FBI required employees to sign employment contracts that are illegal under Federal law. The NWC launched the investigation in response to a nearly year long campaign by the FBI to prevent the publication of whistleblower Sibel Edmonds' new book, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story.

On April 26, 2011, Ms. Edmonds followed official procedure and submitted her manuscript to the FBI for pre-publication clearance. Under the terms of her employment agreement and controlling regulations, the FBI was required to review and approve the submission within thirty (30) days. Instead of complying with the law, the FBI intentionally stalled the approval process for over 341 days and has still refused to "clear" the book for publication.

Ms. Edmonds will speak today for the first time about the FBI's attempts to suppress her book. The interview will be aired live at 1:30pm ET on Honesty Without Fear, and the podcast will also be available for download.

The NWC is also releasing documentation confirming that the FBI required employees, including Ms. Edmonds, to sign the illegal contracts that allowed the FBI to censor issues of "public policy" it found embarrassing. According to Ms. Edmonds attorney, Stephen M. Kohn, "the controlling law strictly limits government's ability to censor its employees. Agencies like the FBI may require pre-publication review of its employees' writings, but may only censor classified or secret information. The government may not censor books or other writings on 'policy' grounds. The FBI's employment contract with Ms. Edmonds is overreaching and illegal."

Additional documents demonstrate that the agency acted illegally to prevent Ms. Edmonds from publishing a manuscript that might embarrass the agency.

The book in question, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, discusses Ms. Edmonds's experience as an FBI Language Specialist who discovered and blew the whistle on serious security breaches and cover-ups at the Washington Field Office. The FBI fired Ms. Edmonds for making protected disclosures about the misconduct she observed and later invoked the "state's secret" privilege to suppress her story.
An independent investigation by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General confirmed her allegations and the illegality of her termination. However, the Bush administration invoked the state secrets privilege in 2002 in order to have Ms. Edmonds' whistleblower claims dismissed and to protect the government from embarrassment.

In recognition of her work to expose intelligence failures, Ms. Edmonds received the 2006 First Amendment Award, presented by the PEN American Center and Newman's Own.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center, also stated:

The FBI must stop harassing Sibel Edmonds. The law is crystal clear on the government's ability to censor federal employees and contractors. When reviewing their writings, the government has the single ability to strike classified or secret information. The government may not censor a book based on "policy." Here, the FBI has invented new powers for itself, violating the Constitution. Congress should investigate all employment agreements drafted by the FBI to ensure that they are legal and not designed to censor speech protected under the First Amendment.
To schedule interviews with Ms. Edmonds and/or her attorney please contact Lindsey Williams at lmw@whistleblowers.org.
 
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Since 1988, the NWC and attorneys associated with it have supported whistleblowers in the courts and before Congress and achieved victories for environmental protection, government contract fraud, nuclear safety and government and corporate accountability.

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