Op-Ed by Janet Phelan
Those of us watching the attacks on the press were acutely aware of the implications of the charges levied against you, and now dismissed, concerning “cybercrimes.” The charges were redolent not only of the questionable charges against Julian Assange, but also were tinged with the sorts of “crimes” that have forced whistleblower Edward Snowden into exile and have resulted in an ongoing saga of contempt charges which are keeping whistleblower Chelsea Manning in an extended incarceration.
Increasingly, journalists are using data mined from internet sources, some of which may be considered to have “national security” implications. The fact that The Intercept has chosen to shutter the Snowden archives, with a mere 5% of the documents having been published, also buttresses growing concerns that press freedom is now under siege. The timing of this decision by The Intercept, which was virtually coincidental with Assange’s removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy and arrest by British police, did not escape the attention of press freedom advocates. Apparently, people are scared and are making decisions based on this emotion.
But it is not only documents which are being withheld from public oversight. There have been a rash of reports of journalists under extreme siege. Bilal Abdul Kareem, whose case in federal court got significant media attention when first filed, is now simply hanging out there, with no protections whatsoever, after Judge Collyer dismissed his case following government assertions of “national security.” Kareem, if you recall, is a US born journalist whose credits include CNN and Al-Jazeera, whose case revolved around allegations that the US was trying to kill him with drones.
A search of The Intercept finds no mention of the Kareem case dismissal, however. In fact, there appears only one search result on Kareem, a story back in 2016 when Kareem was attacked in Syria by a drone.
Kareem is not the only reporter under extreme duress. As you may know, Mr. Greenwald, I have contacted you more than once following my being attacked by chemical weapons-laden drones in Latin America. A rash of US whistleblowers, including several former NSA employees, are also reporting extreme and potentially life threatening attacks with unconventional weapons.