Courage trustee Julian Assange, acting director Sarah Harrison, and advisory board members Renata Avila, who is an internet rights lawyer, and Andy Müller-Maguhn, on the board of the Wau Holland Foundation, which collects donations for Snowden and Hammond on Courage’s behalf, participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session yesterday.
The AMA followed President Obama’s latest Executive Order, which authorises sanctions against ‘cyber-enabled activities’ and which journalists and supporters worry could affect those donating to WikiLeaks and Courage. In response to the order, issued 1 April 2015, Reddit supporters initiated a surge in bitcoin donations to Edward Snowden’s defence fund.
Overall, supporters have given 3.68 BTC to Courage, with 1.07 coming since the EO, and 1604 to Snowden’s fund. Supporters have given Snowden 24 BTC since the EO alone, through 236 separate donations, with the largest being nearly 8.5 BTC – worth $2000.
Questions covered Courage’s various beneficiaries, its goals and the participants’ outlook for addressing secrecy, the crackdown on whistleblowers and countering propaganda.
Harrison spoke about the ultimate effects of Snowden’s whistleblowing:
The long term effects of Snowden’s actions remain to be seen. What I hope is that the public around the world will stand up for their rights and demand change, and their governments will listen to them. I think a lot rests with users understanding the threats and protecting themselves against them.
I think the rest of Edward’s life will forever be complex, as it will for all that have stood up to the most powerful and speak the truth: Jeremy Hammond, Chelsea Manning, Barrett Brown, Julian Assange and many others. However, he has been granted asylum which offers immediate protection. I hope that in the future more countries stand up to protect him, and all those that have worked for the public’s right to know.
Harrison responded to those who say whistleblowers are “traitors” who “support the enemy”:
This propaganda happens a lot. What is very important here is to explain that throughout the whole of the Manning trial the US government was desperate to prove that some “harm” had come. In fact if could prove none. What did happen, is that the US troops began to withdraw from Iraq. What has happened since Snowden’s revelations is that citizens around the world began to protect their communications. And still not one reported “harm”. In fact we still get bombs by known person’s of suspect. It is a matter of US interests the government is protecting, not US security.
Avila discussed how people in under-developed countries can raise awareness regarding whistleblowers and privacy:
Coming from a similar country, I will say that those are precisely the countries where advocates for the right to truth and access to information in hands of the powerful are crucial. You need to directly connect it as follows: the less the people know about their governments, the more opaque they are, the more they colude with corporations and divert their actions and increase the problems distracting funds to their pockets.
Assange explained why Courage is supporting Matt DeHart:
Matt DeHart has been the subject of significant abuse by the FBI, but the case is very important legally as it involves an interplay between asylum, crypto-extradition, deportation, anonymous, WikiLeaks, espionage and pariah charges. You can read more about Matt’s case here: https://couragefound.org/2015/03/matt-dehart-named-as-third-courage-beneficiary/
Assange and Müller-Maguhn also discussed systemic problems.
Finally, M_Cetera has compiled an easy-to-read collection of all the Courage team members’ responses here.
Support the Courage Foundation and its beneficiaries here: