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A Vindication for the Public: Guardian and Washington Post Win Pulitzer Prize (A statement from Edward Snowden)

I am grateful to the committee for their recognition of the efforts of those involved in the last year's reporting, and join others around the world in congratulating Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman, Ewen MacAskill, and all of the others at the Guardian and Washington Post on winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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London Heathrow customs agent interrogates Edward Snowden's attorney Jesselyn Radack

Jesselyn Radack, an attorney who represents NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was detained and interrogated while transiting customs at Heathrow airport in London. Kevin Gosztola reports:

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US drones could be killing the wrong people because of metadata errors

The Intercept, the "fearless, adversarial journalism" venture launched by Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, launched with a big boom today.

Lead story on the site right now, which is https by default (and straining under launch day load at the moment) explores "The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program."

The Intercept will initially focus on NSA stories based on documents provided by Edward Snowden, and this is one such story.

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Guilty plea in Fox News leak case shows why Espionage Act prosecutions are unfair to reporters' sources


Stephen Jin-Woo Kim. Image: Stephen Kim Legal Defense Trust.

Former State Department official Stephen Kim announced today he will plead guilty to leaking classified information to Fox News journalist James Rosen and will serve 13 months in jail.

The case sparked controversy last year when it was revealed the Justice Department named Rosen a “co-conspirator” in court documents for essentially doing his job as a journalist. But a largely ignored ruling in Kim’s case may have far broader impact on how sources interact with journalists in the future.

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Highlights of Daniel Ellsberg’s Reddit AMA on Edward Snowden and NSA surveillance


Daniel Ellsberg. Photo: Xeni Jardin.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower (and our co-founder) Daniel Ellsberg held an expansive, seven-hour long Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session yesterday to explain why NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will join our board of directors. He also discussed many other subjects—including NSA surveillance, President Obama’s flip-flop on whistleblowers, Nixon’s dirty tricks, and the dangers of excessive government secrecy.

Below are some of our favorite questions and answers. But make sure to read the last remarkable exchange, in which Mr. Ellsberg finds out—for the first time—that the Nixon administration had surveillance of him from before the Pentagon Papers were leaked.

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Freedom of the Press Foundation Launches SecureDrop, an Open-Source Submission Platform for Whistleblowers

Freedom of the Press Foundation has taken charge of the DeadDrop project, an open-source whistleblower submission system originally coded by the late transparency advocate Aaron Swartz. In the coming months, the Foundation will also provide on-site installation and technical support to news organizations that wish to run the system, which has been renamed “SecureDrop.”

By installing SecureDrop, news organizations around the world can securely accept documents from whistleblowers, while better protecting their sources’ anonymity.  Although it is important to note that no security system can ever be 100 percent impenetrable, Freedom of the Press Foundation believes that this system is the strongest ever made available to media outlets. Several major news agencies have already signed up for installations, and they will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We’ve reached a time in America when the only way the press can assure the anonymity and safety of their sources is not to know who they are,” said JP Barlow, co-founder and board member of Freedom of the Press Foundation. “SecureDrop is where real news can be slipped quietly under the door.”

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Manning’s gender hell: Shades of gray in a black-and-white world

We asked writer, film director, Boing Boing contributor, and transgender educator and activist Andrea James what she thought about the media confusion following Private Manning‘s gender transition revelation. Below, Andrea’s thoughts.

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Bradley Manning sentence to be delivered Aug. 21, 10am US Eastern


U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning arrives at the courthouse during his court martial at Fort Meade in Maryland August, 20, 2013. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana

In a courtroom at Fort Meade on Wednesday, August 21, at 10am Eastern time, Judge Army. Col. Denise Lind will deliver the sentence in Bradley Manning's court-martial. The 25-year-old former intelligence analyst is charged with sharing more than 700,000 secret government documents with Julian Assange and Wikileaks. The transparency organization published those documents online, and shared them with news organizations.

Manning faces up to 90 years in prison, and will receive credit for 3.5 years already served in custody, some in solitary confinement. No minimum sentence applies; Judge Lind convicted him last month of most charges brought against him by the government, including 6 violations of the US Espionage Act of 1917.

Here is the latest transcript of court proceedings [PDF], captured by stenographers who were crowdfunded and hired by Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Manning's attorney will give a press conference after the sentence delivery. Follow this Twitter list, for updates from reporters who are there at the Fort Meade media operations center.

One of those reporters, Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News, wrote an important piece today about the kind of treatment Manning is likely to receive in military prison as a transgender person.

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Bradley Manning trial judge increased press security "because of repeat violations of the rules of court”


Col. Denise Lind, the Judge in the Bradley Manning military trial. Pic by Clark Stoeckley (twitter: @wikileakstruck).

Huffington Post reporter Matt Sledge read my Boing Boing post earlier today about reports from the Bradley Manning trial of dramatically-increased security measures for press. Those measures including armed military police standing behind journalists at their laptops, snooping on their screens.

He reports that the new, oppressive security measures were ordered directly by the judge because reporters were violating court rules (which no one can find a copy of), and carrying "prohibited electronics." For this, the government needs armed military police standing right behind reporters as they type, in the media room.

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US lawmakers vote against legislation to curb NSA's spying program

In Washington, the House voted against legislation [PDF] that would have stopped the National Security Agency from gathering vast amounts of phone records. Here's a breakdown of which reps were for and against, so our US readers can see how their elected representative voted. The result handed the Obama administration "a hard-fought victory in the first congressional showdown over the N.S.A.'s surveillance activities since Edward J. Snowden’s security breaches last month," write Jonathan Weisman and Charlie Savage in the New York Times:

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How the US forces internet companies to cooperate on spying, or else

"By wielding a potent legal threat, the U.S. government is often able to force Internet companies to aid its surveillance demands. The threat? Comply or we'll implant our own eavesdropping devices on your network." Declan McCullagh at CNET News writes about the real-time "electronic surveillance" orders the NSA can serve to 'net service providers for investigations related to terrorism or national security. Xeni 2

Holder tightens rules for secretly obtaining reporters' phone logs, emails

Charlie Savage at the NY Times writes about Friday's announcement by US Attorney General Eric Holder of "new guidelines that would significantly narrow the circumstances under which journalists’ records could be obtained." Here's a PDF of the new guidelines. Xeni 4

Obama to pressure Putin to give up Snowden; White House says he's "not a dissident"


White House spokesperson Jay Carney.

"Mr. Snowden is not a human rights activist or dissident," White House spokesman Jay Carney said today, adding that "providing a propaganda platform" for the National Security Agency leaker was "counter to the Russian government's previous declarations of Russia’s neutrality."

Previously, the US Ambassador to Russia is reported to have said the administration believes he's no whistleblower, either.

Snowden invited human rights groups to a meeting in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport earlier today to announce his plans to seek asylum in Russia. A Wikileaks representative was at his side.

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US vs. Bradley Manning: defense rests, Manning won't testify, Wikileaks gets respect


At dawn today, Army personnel at Ft. Meade inspected the vehicles of reporters who arrived to cover the Wikileaks trial. One of the vehicles was @wikileakstruck. Photo: Xeni Jardin.


Yochai Benkler testifying on July 10 in the Bradley Manning court martial. Sketch by Clark Stoeckley (@wikileakstruck).

I traveled to Ft. Meade, Maryland today to observe the trial of Army PFC. Bradley Manning. The 25-year-old Oklahoma native has admitted to providing Wikileaks with more than 700,000 leaked documents, which included battle reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, State Department diplomatic cables, and military videos from combat zones.

Manning downloaded the material from a military network in late 2009 and early 2010 while serving in Iraq as an intelligence analyst. WikiLeaks published much of the material, and shared it with news organizations including Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and the New York Times, which in turn published reports of their own based on the leaked material.

Manning has not, did not, and today told the court he will not testify in the military court martial. In March, however, he gave an extensive statement to Colonel Denise Lind's court about his motivations. Freedom of the Press Foundation, of which I am a board member, published an audio recording of that speech .

Manning has pled guilty to ten charges, which carry a maximum penalty of up to twenty years in prison. The government has continued to pursue all of its initial charges against him, including charges under the Espionage Act and "aiding the enemy." Civil liberties advocates argue that a guilty verdict could have dangerous consequences on press freedom and First Amendment issues in America.

The defense rested its case today after having called a total of ten witnesses in the trial. The last was Yochai Benkler, a Harvard professor who is the author of a widely-cited paper on the role WikiLeaks plays in what he terms "the networked fourth estate." In his testimony for the defense today, he described Wikileaks as having played a legitimate role in a new world of journalism; he argued that the government's characterization of the group as an Anti-American espionage front was inaccurate. And the prosecution inadvertently gave Benkler an opportunity to explain why an aiding the enemy charge against Manning is so extreme.

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An open letter from Edward Snowden's father, to his son

"Thomas Paine, the voice of the American Revolution, trumpeted that a patriot saves his country from his government. What you have done and are doing has awakened congressional oversight of the intelligence community from deep slumber; and, has already provoked the introduction of remedial legislation in Congress to curtail spying abuses under section 215 of the Patriot Act and section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. You have forced onto the national agenda the question of whether the American people prefer the right to be left alone from government snooping." Read the full letter published by Edward Snowden's dad, addressed to his son. [www.guardian.co.uk] Xeni 4