In our first four years, Courage has scored some decisive victories, created the most comprehensive database of Snowden’s documents and made substantial contributions to public debates around whistleblower protection, online freedoms and citizens’ access to information.
Courage has been there for our beneficiaries when they needed it most. We helped the Azerbaijani journalist and human rights worker Emin Huseynov escape to asylum and safety Switzerland amid a crackdown in Baku. We saved Lauri Love from a virtual death sentence in the United States, winning an important battle for UK encryption rights along the way. We’ve made sure that Edward Snowden’s revelations have a permanent impact by making every document published easily accessible, searchable by category, country, and keyword. We’ve funded commissaries and legal costs for our beneficiaries who are enduring abusive retaliation in prison. And now we’re defending WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange as he faces extradition to the United States, where he’d face aggressive prosecution for his journalistic activity.
Courage is dedicated to supporting individual beneficiaries but also the principles they support. We’ve testified at trials, submitted public comments, and have appeared in media interviews about how our beneficiaries’ cases apply to their countries at large and the wider fight for the public’s right to know.
Courage is fighting the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, where he faces prosecution for his journalistic activity and immense contributions to the historical public record. Assange was arrested on 11 April 2019, when Ecuador revoked his asylum and invited UK police to haul him out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in handcuffs.
Assange was quickly convicted of a bail violation for seeking asylum in 2012, and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison, in a ruling that explicitly ignored and dismissed the United Nations Working Group on Detention’s finding that Assange had been held in arbitrary detention.
But the far bigger threat remains the United States’ attempt to extradite Assange from the UK and prosecute him for his journalistic work in 2010. The US has unsealed an indictment against Assange, charging him with one computer crime count for allegedly assisting Chelsea Manning crack a password to protect her anonymity in 2010.
That charge has been written to equate basic journalistic activity with hacking and espionage, and press freedom groups and leaders around the world immediately recognised and condemned the threat it poses to basic journalistic activity.
But the DOJ, which has been running an unprecedented and wide-ranging investigation into WikiLeaks for its publishing and sourcing work since 2010, is widely expected to bring more charges against Assange, likely to include charges under the 1917 Espionage Act, in an attempt to criminalise Assange and WikiLeaks’ groundbreaking publications of US war crimes and diplomatic abuses in 2010.
Upon Assange’s arrest, Sen. Joe Manchin crowed, “He’s our property,” saying it will “be really good to get him back on United States soil.”
This is about more than one publisher. It is about source protection, extradition & sovereignty, press freedom globally and the continued erosion of the First Amendment in the United States. The Obama Administration prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined, and ran the longest investigation into a publisher ever in the US with its WikiLeaks Grand Jury. The Trump Administration has only intensified the war on journalism and its sources, on pace to shatter Obama’s leak prosecution record, taking the step the Obama Admin wouldn’t take in actually indicting Julian Assange for journalistic activity.
Julian Assange’s extradition is not a foregone conclusion: we must fight this injustice at every turn. Lauri Love and Gary McKinnon have successfully fought off US extradition requests, and this effort will require massive public support. “The fight has just begun,” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said on the day that Assange’s extradition hearings began. “It will be a long one and a hard one.”
Find out more and get involved today:
Courage runs the official Edward Snowden support site edwardsnowden.com.
Edward Snowden is a former National Security Agency contractor who blew the whistle on transnational mass surveillance by turning over tens of thousands of top-secret documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman. These documents detail mass, indiscriminate spying of digital communications around the world, chiefly by the NSA and the UK’s GCHQ; collusion between governments and giant tech corporations; and the continuing erosion of privacy. Snowden’s whistleblowing and subsequent persecution were chief influences in the Courage Foundation’s inception. The documents Snowden has already revealed have launched an international debate about privacy, surveillance and the value of whistleblowers.
The US government charged Snowden with theft of government property and two counts of violating the 1917 Espionage Act. Each charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. His legal team includes US and EU lawyers among others that are funded or partly funded by Courage.
With the US pursuing his extradition and imprisoning other whistleblowers, Snowden sought refuge, travelling to Hong Kong and through Moscow when the US government revoked his passport, barring his departure. Snowden was formally granted asylum in Russia for a period of one year on 1 August 2013. On 7 August 2014, his lawyer announced that Snowden was granted a three-year residency permit in Russia, which allows him to work or travel anywhere within the Russian Federation, and to travel abroad for periods of up to three months.
Courage has created the most comprehensive, searchable database of Snowden’s released documents, at search.edwardsnowden.com.
Courage runs the official Jeremy Hammond support site: freejeremy.net
Jeremy Hammond is a computer programmer, activist and anarchist, and a former member of the online collective Anonymous. He is serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison in Manchester, Kentucky, for allegedly exposing millions of emails from private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor). In 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing the more than five million emails (as the GI Files), in coordination with dozens of international media outlets, resulting in hundreds of news stories around the world and revealing the ways in which corporations and governments use their services to spy on human rights activists. Stories based on these documents continue to come out today.
The revelations included Stratfor’s claim that they possessed a sealed indictment against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. The documents revealed that Dow Chemical paid Stratfor to spy on activists protesting Bhopal’s oil spill, and that Coca-Cola paid Stratfor to provide intelligence on PETA activists who might protest at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Jeremy is currently scheduled for release on 22 February 2020. He has already been punished further while in prison: he has spent significant time in solitary confinement, he waited in jail for over a year before his trial began, and the prison has restricted his communication rights. These are draconian measures of retaliation designed to set an example of a brave, conscientious truthteller from a government that fears he might inspire similar acts of courage.
Courage raises funds and awareness for Jeremy in gratitude for his contributions to the public record. Donations will go to his commissary, his legal team monitoring his prison conditions, and to Courage to maintain his site, where we’ll publish his writings and keep you informed about his case and his well-being.
Courage runs the official Matt DeHart support site: mattdehart.com
Matt DeHart is a former US Air National Guard drone team member and alleged WikiLeaks courier, who worked with the hactivist group Anonymous. After becoming the subject of a national security investigation — and allegations relating to a teenage pornography case which he vehemently denies — he fled from the United States to Canada with his family to seek political asylum and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In what represents a moral victory for the DeHart family, the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board judge found that the teenage pornography case against Matt lacked credibility. However, because the IRB considered that the United States still had a functioning democracy, they denied his claim, and on 1 March, 2015 Matt DeHart was handed over into US federal custody.
A longtime member of Anonymous, in mid-September 2009, Matt found an unprotected file, an FBI investigation into the CIA, on a server he ran. He deleted the file but it later reappeared in encrypted form on another server he had access to, and was destined for WikiLeaks.
The FBI raided the DeHart family home on 25 Jan 2010 and seized Matt’s computer together with every data storage device in the house — except for two hidden thumb drives, which he says contain Anonymous contact information, server logs and leaked documents. Later that year, DeHart was detained at the border when returning from college in Canada. There, Matt says he was tortured and intravenously drugged against his will. FBI records of his interrogation confirm that Matt was detained for “national security” reasons and questioned about his military unit, Anonymous, WikiLeaks and espionage. During his interrogation he was presented with a Criminal Complaint and Arrest Warrant for the solicitation of child pornography that had been filed in the afternoon after his morning detention at the border. According to Matt, the FBI told him they knew he was innocent of the charges.
In 2012 a US judge, after reviewing classified FBI reports, expressed skepticism in open court over the government’s charges against Matt, and ordered that he be released on bond. Matt then returned to Canada with his parents to seek asylum, but he again found himself in detention, and under questioning by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) Intelligence and War Crimes Division. In February 2015 Canada denied Matt DeHart’s request for asylum, and on March 1, 2015 he was deported back to the US, where he was held in federal custody. In February 2016, DeHart was sentenced after a plea deal to 7.5 years in prison.
Courage runs the official Lauri Love support site: freelauri.com
With Courage’s support, Lauri Love prevailed in his four-year-long battle against extradition to the United States. In a landmark decision, the High Court in London ruled that US prison conditions mean that extraditing Lauri would be “oppressive” and that the proper place to hear any case against him would be in the UK.
Lauri became a Courage beneficiary in July 2015, after three judicial districts in the United States initiated extradition proceedings against him, alleging Lauri had been part of the series of online protests that followed the death of Aaron Swartz. Before the extradition case was heard, we assisted Lauri as he fought off efforts from British police to force him to turn over encryption keys to the laptops they confiscated. Lauri stood his ground, refusing to give up passwords on the principle that encryption doesn’t mean illegality, and this effort to circumvent privacy protections was thwarted in the courts.
If Lauri had been extradited, he would have faced three separate trials in the US and a maximum sentence of 99 years in prison. Lauri, who has Asperger’s and suffers depression, would have been denied bail and would very likely have been placed in solitary confinement. Every court in the UK that heard Lauri’s case recognised that his situation would deteriorate in the US system, with potentially fatal consequences.
When the District Court and Home Secretary approved Lauri’s extradition, Courage compelled British parlamentarians to step in. We coordinated an open letter from more than 114 MPs calling on then-US President Barack Obama to drop the extradition requests. Later we assisted more than 70 MPs who wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May, calling for Lauri’s extradition to be halted.
Lauri Love’s appeal victory is a decisive win for defendants in the UK and an important recognition of shortcomings in America’s federal prison system. Courage will continue to support Lauri and his family until his legal situation is fully resolved.
Chelsea Manning is one of the most well known former political prisoners of our time, whose actions exposed war crimes, helped fuel the Arab Spring uprisings, and led to the US withdrawing most of its forces from Iraq in 2011. The 28-year-old former Army intelligence analyst disclosed hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks in order to reveal war crimes and human rights violations, give a clearer picture of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars to the public and shed light on the way the United States conducts diplomacy around the world. Manning is serving 35 years in jail, the longest sentence for a whistleblower in US history, after being convicted on several counts of the Espionage Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and military violations.
Manning revealed the Collateral Murder video, the Iraq and Afghan War Logs, the GTMO Files, and a quarter of a million State Department diplomatic cables, released by WikiLeaks in 2010 and ’11.
Confined in Kuwait, the Quantico Marine Brig and now Fort Leavenworth, Manning was abused in jail, including enduring solitary confinement against the advice of prison psychologists.
In 2013, Manning was convicted of several counts of the Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in a trial where she wasn’t allowed to legally explain her actions as in the public interest. She was sentenced to 35 years in jail.
The day after her sentencing, Chelsea (formerly Bradley), announced her decision to live publicly as a woman, as Chelsea. Since then, she has been embattled in a fight with the US Army for rights as a transgender prisoner, including to medically necessary hormone therapy.
In May 2017, Chelsea Manning was released from prison, after outgoing President Obama commuted her sentence to time served. However, since Manning wasn’t pardoned, she continues to appeal her unjust conviction and the precedent it set.