What is Courage and what do you do?
The Courage Foundation is an international organisation that supports those who risk life or liberty to make significant contributions to the historical record. We raise funds for the legal and public defence of specific individuals who fit this criteria and are subject to serious prosecution or persecution. We also campaign for the protection of truthtellers and the public’s right to know generally.
Courage is based in Germany, the UK and the US, and we have plans to extend our reach internationally. We host the official defence funds for Edward Snowden and Jeremy Hammond. We will do the same for others in the future, taking on additional beneficiaries, who have put themselves at risk in order to expose and document wrongdoing.
Why protect whistleblowers and truthtellers?
Whistleblowers expose institutional misconduct and illegal activity that is otherwise withheld from the public at large. Whistleblowers are essential in organisations that operate within cultures of secrecy — they act as the public’s regulators of last resort, when other systems of accountability are broken.
We traditionally think of whistleblowers as insiders disclosing their employers’ abuses, but those on the outside who work to make public the secret wrongdoing of the powerful are just as vital in the effort to hold them accountable. Therefore, we often use the term ‘truthtellers’ to refer to all of those who make significant contributions to the historical record.
Without these conscientious objectors, we would know far less about international diplomacy, offshore banking and the excesses of the War on Terror. Whistleblowers were responsible for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and international publicity of torture at Abu Ghraib.
Why can’t whistleblowers use official channels?
Many institutions have established ‘official channels’ for employees to voice their concerns — ranging from internal policies to legislative protections to formal ombudsmen — with various degrees of efficacy. For many, official channels simply do not work – and, by their very nature, internal avenues are unavailable to conscientious outsiders who wish to bring secret wrongdoing to light.
Existing internal mechanisms are important and Courage will campaign for their improvement, but there are many reasons why internal channels may not be appropriate or effective, and why such avenues will never – can never – be sufficient. Filing an internal complaint offers no adequate recourse when a problem is systemic in nature.
Official channels can also siphon off dissent while giving the appearance of accountability and transparency, without giving the person making a report any guarantee against reprisal.
What kinds of threats do whistleblowers and truthtellers face?
Truthtellers around the world face a range of consequences and reprisals including:
- prosecution: state secrecy laws forbidding public interest defences and carrying heavy penalties
- imprisonment: lengthy detention without trial, torturous conditions
- financial: burden of extensive legal costs and the loss of income
- personal: alienation, isolation, maligned reputation, threats against their lives
- professional: employer retaliation, ranging from dismissal to blacklisting
What can I do to support Courage?
Donating is the easiest, fastest and most tangible way you can support Courage now. We’re working to develop our staff in the US, UK and Germany to broaden our scope, and we’re establishing a defence fund that will serve as a long-term safety net for truthtellers-in-peril to come. We need to finance legal teams because persecuted clients often can’t afford to pay their own court costs, but we also need to build networks of activists, legal advisors and writers to keep truthtellers’ cases in the public sphere.
For other ways to help Courage, see here.
What is the JSPDF, and is it related to Courage?
Courage was formally founded as the Journalistic Source Protection Defence Fund (JSPDF) on 9 August 2013. It expanded to become the Courage Foundation in June 2014. Courage defends whistleblowers and other types of journalistic sources from persecution and prosecution. The Courage trustees are Julian Assange, Publisher of WikiLeaks; Gavin MacFadyen, Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism; and Barbora Bukovská, Senior Director for Law and Policy at Article 19.
I’ve found another website raising funds for Jeremy Hammond or Edward Snowden, is it related to your organisation?
No. Courage hosts the only official defence funds for Jeremy Hammond and Edward Snowden, so imitators are likely scams. Should you find a separate site claiming to raise funds for any of our beneficiaries, please alert the Courage trustees by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am organising an event in support of Jeremy Hammond or Edward Snowden, can Courage help?
We’re always interested to hear about new campaigning efforts in support of our beneficiaries. Please get in touch and let us know what you have planned.