NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is joining the board of directors of the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), an organization founded just over a year ago with a mission to fund and support transparency journalism.
Other members of the board Snowden will join in February include founding members Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, two of the key journalists who have brought Snowden's leaks to the public, as well as Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.
"It is tremendously humbling to be called to serve the cause of our free press, and it is the honor of a lifetime to do so alongside extraordinary Americans like Daniel Ellsberg on FPF’s Board of Directors," Snowden said in a release from the organization. "The unconstitutional gathering of the communications records of everyone in America threatens our most basic rights, and the public should have a say in whether or not that continues. Thanks to the work of our free press, today we do, and if the NSA won't answer to Congress, they'll have to answer to the newspapers, and ultimately, the people."
Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper on Tuesday about Snowden's joining FPF, Ellsberg said that Snowden "represents the values" of the organization, "which are that investigative journalism is essential to the First Amendment, freedom of the press and of speech."
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"You can't have investigative journalism in the foreign policy or so-called defense area without, [to] put it very bluntly, leaks of classified information because the secrecy system and classification system have been so abused always that the information that the public needs to know to be the sovereign public and have an influence on these policies is routinely classified, no matter what abuses that conceals," Ellsberg told Tapper.
"No one is punished for using secrecy to conceal dangerous policies, lies, or crimes, yet concerned employees who wish to inform the American public about what the government is doing under their name are treated as spies," a statement by Ellsberg continues. "Our ‘accountability’ mechanisms are a one-sided secret court, which acts as a rubber stamp, and a Congressional ‘oversight’ committee, which has turned into the NSA’s public relations firm. Edward Snowden had no choice but to go to the press with information. Far from a crime, Snowden’s disclosures are a true constitutional moment, where the press has held the government to account using the First Amendment, when the other branches refused.”
In an interview with the New York Times, Ellsberg added that Snowden "is no more of a traitor than I am, and I am not a traitor.”
The other members of the FPF board are Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder John Perry Barlow; Rainey Reitman, founder of Bradley Manning Support Network; Josh Stearns of Free Press; actor and activist John Cusack; founding partner and co-editor of Boing Boing Xeni Jardin; writer, activist, and lawyer Trevor Timm; Micah Lee, formerly of EFF and now with First Look Media.