For Immediate Release
Council of Europe Parliamentarians Call For Strong Protections For National Security Whistleblowers
Resolution Calls on the United States to allow Snowden to Return and Mount Public Interest Defense
WASHINGTON - Yesterday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted overwhelmingly to approve a resolution calling on its member states and the European Union (EU) to improve whistleblower protection and extend it to all employees working in the national security field. The 87-7 vote came after an hour-long debate during the PACE summer session that saw several parliamentarians speak passionately about the need to protect whistleblowers as a way to bolster anti-corruption and democratic accountability efforts in their respective countries. Only one representative from the UK spoke against the resolution and offered an amendment to weaken it, which would have called on NSA whistleblower and GAP client Edward Snowden to “surrender” to U.S. authorities. That amendment was defeated.
As adopted, the resolution calls on the United States to allow Snowden to return to the country and mount a public interest defense of his whistleblowing, if he is to be prosecuted. Currently, the 1917 Espionage Act under which he is charged does not allow such a defense. The resolution also proposes that countries, if their national law permits, grant asylum to whistleblowers threatened with retaliation in their home countries.
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Speaking via video link at an event organized by Anna Myers, Director of the Whistleblowing International Network and incoming GAP Executive Director, Snowden thanked PACE for its efforts and commented that the resolution was a “major step forward for whistleblower protection in Europe and internationally.”
Myers, who has been supporting the work of Pieter Omtzigt, Rapporteur for the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which drafted the resolution and accompanying report, said:
“This resolution, in calling to protect whistleblowers who take great risks on behalf of us all, seeks to rebalance the public’s right to access information vital to democratic accountability and society’s well being. These rights have for far too long been overshadowed by corporate and government interests who have sought to keep us in the dark about issues that impact all aspects of our lives, from the food we eat and our privacy, to the conduct of our financial institutions and public officials. I congratulate the Council of Europe on this bold initiative.”
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.