NSA whistleblower supporters to speak on civil liberties

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Daniel Ellsberg
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

Famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and plans to march in the upcoming San Francisco Pride Parade to honor Bradley Manning. In an editorial published earlier today, Ellsberg lauded Edward Snowden – the 29-year-old who came forward to reveal himself as the National Security Agency whistleblower – as “a new hero” and “a patriot.”

Tomorrow, June 11, Ellsberg will speak as part of a panel talk titled “Our Vanishing Civil Liberties.” The event will also feature Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic Member of Parliament and Wikileaks supporter, who leads an organization that indicated in a statement yesterday that it would assist Snowden in seeking asylum in Iceland.

The panel talk, which will be held in Berkeley, was organized in tandem with the National Lawyers Guild of San Francisco and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. Other speakers will include activist and author Norman Solomon, who has also called for support for Snowden, and Nadia Kayyali, Legal Fellow with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Executive Vice President for the National Lawyers Guild.

“The timing with these revelations is pretty fantastic,” Kayyali notes. “The real goal of this discussion is really that, for it to be a discussion,” she added.

A national coalition of privacy organizations is in the process of coming together and preparing a statement in response to the surveillance programs revealed in The Guardian (UK) and the Washington Post over the last several days, Kayyali said.

Yesterday, a statement was released by the International Modern Media Institute, co-founded by Jonsdottir to strengthen Iceland’s protections for journalists and whistleblowers.

Tonight the identity of Edward Snowden, the brave whistleblower who exposed these clandestine projects for monitoring the world’s population, was revealed in an interview, where it was implied that he has an interest in seeking asylum in Iceland,” IMMI wrote in a message apparently drafted in Reykjavík, Iceland and San Francisco.Whereas IMMI is based in Iceland, and has worked on protections of privacy, furtherance of government transparency, and the protection of whistleblowers, we feel it is our duty to offer to assist and advise Mr. Snowden to the greatest of our ability.”

Jonsdottir was targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice several years ago, when federal agents sought her Twitter account records after she supported Wikileaks as a volunteer.