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On 11  September, 2013 UPI in Geneva carried an interesting but surprisingly-little-noticed item under the title “U.N. expert says whistle-blowers serve democratic principles“:  Human rights defenders and whistle-blowers need protection in order to ensure democratic and international order, a rights envoy said from Geneva. Alfred de Zayas, U.N. special envoy in equitable order, told the U.N. Human Rights Council access to “truthful and reliable” information from diverse sources is essential for people to play an effective role in public affairs. German protesters gathered last weekend for an event dubbed “Freedom Not Fear.” Tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out in Berlin to rally against the U.S. National Security Agency and Britains signals intelligence program gathering of databases of peoples email, online chat and Internet browsing histories without prior court authorization. “I am dismayed that notwithstanding lip service to democracy, too many governments seem to forget that in a democracy, it is the people who are sovereign,” de Zayas said in his prepared remarks Wednesday. NSA contractor Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Moscow. He faces charges in the United States, including two espionage-related counts, for leaking information about a surveillance program dubbed Prism. De Zayas said human rights defenders and whistle-blowers deserve “specific protection” from prosecution. [They] have in some contexts been accused of being unpatriotic, whereas they perform, in reality, a democratic service to their countries and to the enjoyment of human rights of their compatriots,” he said.

via U.N. expert says whistle-blowers serve democratic principles – UPI.com.

As asked in another blog : Are whistle blowers heroes or villains? : “Private Chelsea nee Bradley Manning,  Julian Assange.  Edward Snowden.  They have all claimed that their actions are for the public good.  The Establishment says that they are all a risk to national security.  That brings up the thorny issue of Free speech v security. Were lives put at risk because of the leaks?  If so, is that a price worth paying?  Are they moral crusaders?  Or are they recklessly endangering national security? Should we even conflate whistle blowing with security?  Was national security ever really at risk?  Or is that a cop-out from our leaders because they are embarrassed about what is being leaked?  Then we have to ask the question – is there a difference between a corporate whistle-blower and one that works for the government?  If so, why?  Whistle blowers.  Good or Bad?  Heroes or Villains?”

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