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'Whistleblower protection laws in US do not protect me, no chance to have fair trial' - Snowden

24 January 2014, 02:24 3

'One of the things that has not been widely reported by journalists is that whistleblower protection laws in the US do not protect contractors in the national security arena," former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said at his second Q&A session on Thursday.

Answering the question 'What do you think about Obama's whistleblowing protection act?' Snowden said:

"One of the things that has not been widely reported by journalists is that whistleblower protection laws in the US do not protect contractors in the national security arena. There are so many holes in the laws, the protections they afford are so weak, and the processes for reporting they provide are so ineffective that they appear to be intended to discourage reporting of even the clearest wrongdoing. If I had revealed what I knew about these unconstitutional but classified programs to Congress, they could have charged me with a felony. One only need to look at the case of Thomas Drake to see how the government doesn't have a good history of handling legitimate reports of wrongdoing within the system."

Months after his revelations spurred outrage about the state of civil liberties in the United States, Edward Snowden expressed hope for his native nation, saying 'what makes our country strong is our system of values.'

'We can correct the laws, restrain the overreach of agencies, and hold the senior officials responsible for abusive programs to account,' Snowden said in an online chat.

Fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden said Thursday he has no plans to return to the United States, because he would have 'no chance' for a fair trial.

'The hundred-year old law under which I've been charged... forbids a public interest defense,' he said in a question-and-answer session on the 'Free Snowden' website.

'This is especially frustrating, because it means there's no chance to have a fair trial, and no way I can come home and make my case to a jury,' he said.

The comments during the former National Security Agency contractor's first such public forum since June.

Snowden was asked about the conditions under which he would return to the United States, where he faces espionage charges for leaking numerous documents about NSA surveillance programs.

'Returning to the US, I think, is the best resolution for the government, the public, and myself, but it's unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistleblower protection laws, which, through a failure in law, did not cover national security contractors like myself,' he said.

'Maybe when Congress comes together to end the programs... they'll reform the Whistleblower Protection Act, and we'll see a mechanism for all Americans, no matter who they work for, to get a fair trial.'

His comments came hours after a US government privacy watchdog panel said the NSA's indiscriminate collection of bulk phone records is illegal and has had minimal value in fighting terrorism.

Also Thursday, US Attorney General Eric Holder said he was unlikely to consider clemency for Snowden.

Holder told MSNBC television US authorities 'would engage in conversation' about a resolution of the case if Snowden accepted responsibility for leaking government secrets.

But he said granting clemency 'would be going too far.'

Voice of Russia, AFP

Source: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_01_24/ Whistleblower-protection-laws-in-US-do-not-protect- me-no-chance-to-have-fair-trial-Snowden-6619/

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