- Edward Snowden
- Jeremy Hammond
- Matt DeHart
- Emin Huseynov
- Barrett Brown
- Lauri Love
- Chelsea Manning
Courage runs the official Edward Snowden support site edwardsnowden.com.
Edward Snowden is a former National Security Agency contractor who blew the whistle on transnational mass surveillance by turning over tens of thousands of top-secret documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman. These documents detail mass, indiscriminate spying of digital communications around the world, chiefly by the NSA and the UK’s GCHQ; collusion between governments and giant tech corporations; and the continuing erosion of privacy.
The documents Snowden has already revealed have launched an international debate about privacy, surveillance and the value of whistleblowers.
The US government charged Snowden with theft of government property and two counts of violating the 1917 Espionage Act. Each charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. His legal team includes US and EU lawyers among others that are funded or partly funded by Courage.
With the US pursuing his extradition and imprisoning other whistleblowers, Snowden sought refuge, travelling to Hong Kong and through Moscow when the US government revoked his passport, barring his departure. Snowden was formally granted asylum in Russia for a period of one year on 1 August 2013. On 7 August 2014, his lawyer announced that Snowden was granted a three-year residency permit in Russia, which allows him to work or travel anywhere within the Russian Federation, and to travel abroad for periods of up to three months.
Snowden’s whistleblowing and subsequent persecution were chief influences in the Courage Foundation’s inception. Our official Edward Snowden support site is here, where we will continually cover his major revelations and build his support campaign. At Courage, we’ll raise funds for his legal defence and raise awareness about his cause.
Courage runs the official Jeremy Hammond support site: freejeremy.net
Jeremy Hammond is a computer programmer, activist and anarchist, and a former member of the online collective Anonymous. He is serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison in Manchester, Kentucky, for allegedly exposing millions of emails from private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor). In 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing the more than five million emails (as the GI Files), in coordination with dozens of international media outlets, resulting in hundreds of news stories around the world and revealing the ways in which corporations and governments use their services to spy on human rights activists. Stories based on these documents continue to come out today.
The revelations included Stratfor’s claim that they possessed a sealed indictment against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. The documents revealed that Dow Chemical paid Stratfor to spy on activists protesting Bhopal’s oil spill, and that Coca-Cola paid Stratfor to provide intelligence on PETA activists who might protest at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Jeremy was initially facing decades in jail (as the government overcharged to intimidate him) but he signed a non-cooperating deal, pleading guilty to a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violation that allowed him to explain his actions, which he defended in service of the truth and the public’s right to know. The judge in his case, Judge Preska, refused to recuse herself despite a clear conflict of interest: her husband was a former Stratfor client and had his information revealed in the GI FIles. She also denied Jeremy bail, claiming that he posed a risk of committing the violation again, despite his lawyers agreeing to a no-internet house arrest. Jeremy’s lawyers submitted 265 letters of support for leniency, but Preska showed no mercy, sentencing him to the maximum 10 years in jail. Hammond’s sentence also includes limited computer access, prohibits him from using encryption, and forbids him from associating with “civil disobedience organizations” for 3 years after his release.
Jeremy is currently scheduled for release on Christmas Day 2020. He has already been punished further while in prison: he has spent significant time in solitary confinement, he waited in jail (some of that in solitary) for over a year before his trial began, and the prison has restricted his communication rights. These are draconian measures of retaliation designed to set an example of a brave, conscientious truthteller from a government that fears he might inspire similar acts of courage.
Courage raises funds and awareness for Jeremy in gratitude for his contributions to the public record. Donations will go to his commissary, his legal team monitoring his prison conditions, and to Courage to maintain his site, where we’ll publish his writings and keep you informed about his case and his well-being.
Courage runs the official Matt DeHart support site: mattdehart.com
Matt DeHart is a former US Air National Guard drone team member and alleged WikiLeaks courier, who worked with the hactivist group Anonymous. After becoming the subject of a national security investigation — and allegations relating to a teenage pornography case which he vehemently denies — he fled from the United States to Canada with his family to seek political asylum and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In what represents a moral victory for the DeHart family, the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board judge found that the teenage pornography case against Matt lacked credibility. However, because the IRB considered that the United States still had a functioning democracy, they denied his claim, and on 1 March, 2015 Matt DeHart was handed over into US federal custody.
While serving with the US Air National Guard, Matt DeHart had become disillusioned with post-9/11 America when he realized that the CIA knew it was killing children and innocents. A longtime member of Anonymous, in mid-September 2009, he found an unprotected file, an FBI investigation into the CIA, on The Shell, a server he ran. He deleted the file but it later reappeared in encrypted form on another server he had access to, and was destined for WikiLeaks. Matt was honourably discharged from the military when, ostensibly, the Air National Guard deemed that his depression was incompatible with his work. However, he believes the Air National Guard knew about his online activity. “Part of my job with Anonymous was I helped people communicate securely,” he said. “I would protect people from NSA spying.”
The FBI raided the DeHart family home on 25 Jan 2010 and seized Matt’s computer together with every data storage device in the house — except for two hidden thumb drives, which he says contain Anonymous contact information, server logs from The Shell and leaked documents. Later that year, DeHart was detained at the border when returning from college in Canada. There, Matt says he was tortured and intravenously drugged against his will. FBI records of his interrogation confirm that Matt was detained for “national security” reasons and questioned about his military unit, Anonymous, WikiLeaks and espionage. During his interrogation he was presented with a Criminal Complaint and Arrest Warrant for the solicitation of child pornography that had been filed in the afternoon after his morning detention at the border. According to Matt, the FBI told him they knew he was innocent of the charges.
Matt spent almost the next two years in various US jails while awaiting trial for the pornography charges. In 2012 a US judge, after reviewing classified FBI reports, expressed skepticism in open court over the government’s charges against Matt, and ordered that he be released on bond. Matt then returned to Canada with his parents to seek asylum, but he again found himself in detention, and under questioning by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) Intelligence and War Crimes Division. In February 2015 Canada denied Matt DeHart’s request for asylum, and on March 1, 2015 he was deported back to the US, where he was held in federal custody.
Emin Huseynov is a 35-year-old Azerbaijani journalist and chairman of the country’s leading media rights group, the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS). Huseynov was forced into hiding in August 2014, amidst widespread repression of journalists and human rights activists, and was sheltered in the Swiss embassy in Baku until Friday 12 June, when he travelled to Switzerland on a humanitarian visa. He is now applying for political asylum in Switzerland.
Emin sought shelter at the Embassy in order to avoid his imminent arrest on fabricated charges — an act of revenge by the Azerbaijani regime in response to his criticism of the country’s poor human rights record in the international arena. On 6 August, Huseynov tried to leave the country for medical help in Turkey but was turned away at the border, and on 8 August, his colleagues told him that the IRFS headquarters were under surveillance. The office was raided shortly thereafter, and Huseynov sought protection at the Swiss Embassy.
Emin Huseynov has long been at the forefront of promoting freedom of expression and free media in his home country of Azerbaijan. He is a tireless defender of human rights, not only in his native Azerbaijan but also throughout the former Soviet Union and beyond. He has advocated for hundreds of journalists, bloggers and free speech activists under threat in Azerbaijan and across the region. Emin Huseynov has worked as a human rights defender for over a decade and has been a victim of harassment and threats since 2003.
In June 2015, Huseynov escaped the crackdown to asylum in Switzerland.
Courage runs the official Barrett Brown support site: freebarrettbrown.org
Barrett Brown is an imprisoned US journalist and the founder of Project PM, a crowd-sourced investigation into the cyber-industrial complex. He was described as an unofficial spokesperson for Anonymous before he renounced his ties to the collective in 2011. He’s written two books, in addition to several articles about politics and journalism in the digital age. In 2012, the FBI raided his house, and later that year Barrett was indicted in 12 federal charges relating to the 2011 Stratfor hack. The most controversial charge, linking to the hacked data, was dropped, but in 2015 Brown was still sentenced to 63 months in prison. He continues to write a column from jail, formerly for D Magazine and now for The Intercept.
On 16 July 2015, the Courage Foundation announced that Barrett is the organization’s fifth beneficiary. Courage relaunched Brown’s site with a new overview of Barrett’s case and Project PM’s work, in addition to compilations of Barrett’s journalism, books, legal documents and media appearances.
In addition to legal and commissary fees, Barrett was ordered to pay $890,250 in fines and restitution as part of his sentence.
Lauri Love is an activist and alleged hacker from Stradishall, England, under arrest and facing potential extradition on charges of hacking into governmental agencies including the US Army, NASA and the Federal Reserve, among others.
Love was first arrested on 28 October 2013, for alleged offences under the UK’s Computer Misuse Act. His house was searched and his computers were seized. The government tried to force Love to turn over his encryption keys, but Lauri refused to cooperate and was ultimately released on bail. However, the National Crime Agency refused to return Love’s computer because it could not decrypt his files. In February 2015 it was reported that Love would take legal action against the NCA to retrieve his property. Finally, in May 2015, the government returned 25 of the 31 items it seized from him. The UK kept, among other things, a Samsung laptop which it could not decrypt.
Then on 15 July 2015, Love was arrested again by UK officials, this time at the behest of the US government, who had issued several indictments and corresponding extradition warrants. The FBI and department of Justice alleges that Love has been involved in hacking into various governmental agencies, including the US Army, NASA, the Federal Reserve and the Environmental Protection Agency.
On 16 September, District Judge Nina Tempia approved Lauri’s extradition, despite accepting medical evidence indicating Lauri would be in grave danger in a US prison, passing the case on to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Should Rudd approve extradition as well, Lauri’s legal team can apply to appeal to the High Court, which will then approve the request on paper or call for an oral hearing.
Chelsea Manning is one of the most well known political prisoners of our time, whose actions exposed war crimes, helped fuel the Arab Spring uprisings, and led to the US withdrawing most of its forces from Iraq in 2011. The 28-year-old former Army intelligence analyst disclosed hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks in order to reveal war crimes and human rights violations, give a clearer picture of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars to the public and shed light on the way the United States conducts diplomacy around the world. Manning is serving 35 years in jail, the longest sentence for a whistleblower in US history, after being convicted on several counts of the Espionage Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and military violations.
Manning revealed the Collateral Murder video, the Iraq and Afghan War Logs, the GTMO Files, and a quarter of a million State Department diplomatic cables, released by WikiLeaks in 2010 and ’11.
Confined in Kuwait, the Quantico Marine Brig and now Fort Leavenworth, Manning was abused in jail, including enduring solitary confinement against the advice of prison psychologists.
In 2013, Manning was convicted of several counts of the Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in a trial where she wasn’t allowed to legally explain her actions as in the public interest. She was sentenced to 35 years in jail.
The day after her sentencing, Chelsea (formerly Bradley), announced her decision to live publicly as a woman, as Chelsea. Since then, she has been embattled in a fight with the US Army for rights as a transgender prisoner, including to medically necessary hormone therapy.
Courage runs WikiLeaks legal defence fund and support site at IamWikileaks.org
This is the first time Courage has taken on an organisation, as opposed to an individual, as a beneficiary. We are working to ensure the protection of all WikiLeaks staff, including Julian Assange, Joseph Farrell, Sarah Harrison and Kristinn Hrafnsson.
The DOJ has been running an unprecedented and wide-ranging investigation into WikiLeaks for its publishing and sourcing work since 2010. It has involved paid informers, illegal interrogations in Europe and secret search warrants. Recently CIA Director Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service”.
Offences cited through the investigation, and allegedly in the charges, include conspiracy, espionage and theft of government property. Recent reports cite Cablegate, the Iraq and Afghan War Logs and Vault 7 publications as well as WikiLeaks’ work in getting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum, as key to the investigation.
This is about more than one publisher. It is about press freedom more broadly and the steady erosion of the First Amendment in the United States. The Obama Administration prosecuted more whistleblowers than all presidents before combined, and ran the longest investigation into a publisher ever in the US with its WikiLeaks Grand Jury. It has continued to the point where Trump’s Department of Justice has stated that charging WikiLeaks Editor, Julian Assange, is now a “priority”.
Courage’s chief demand is for the US to close the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and to drop any charges against any WikiLeaks staff. Courage’s campaign for WikiLeaks is launched on a new site, IamWikiLeaks.org, along with information on the continuing work of WikiLeaks and the actions taken against it. You can follow @CourageWL on Twitter for updates. Courage needs your help to fund WikiLeaks’ team of lawyers in multiple jurisdictions: https://iamwikileaks.org/donate