(Washington, DC) – In a devastating decision that significantly impinges on whistleblower protections, US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has ruled that, in Espionage Act cases, prosecutors do not have to prove that information revealed by a whistleblower is potentially damaging to the US or to “the advantage of a foreign nation.”
The ruling, unsealed late last month, comes in the case of Stephen Kim, a former State Department official accused of disclosing intelligence about North Korea’s nuclear program to Fox News. It also further solidifies the US government’s position linking whistleblowers to the Espionage Act of 1917 and defies over 25 years of legal precedent going back to the United States v. Morison.
“If this doctrine takes root, it no longer will matter if release of information is good or bad for our nation,” commented Government Accountability Project (GAP) Legal Director Tom Devine. “This turns the Espionage Act into an Official Secrets Act. A whistleblower’s disclosure could be the fail-safe protecting America from government breakdowns, corruption or abuse of power. But if the government marks anything as ‘secret,’ a whistleblower is automatically a spy.”
Following up on the documentary “War on Whistleblowers,” GAP, MoveOn.org and the Brave New Foundation are sponsoring a petition that asks Congress to shield whistleblowers from workplace retaliation under the Whistleblower Protection Act – a shield that should extend to criminal investigations and prosecutions. The premise is that it should not be legal for law enforcement to imprison whistleblowers when it is illegal to fire them.
Since 1977, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) has championed government and corporate accountability and transparency by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. The mission of GAP is to make large bureaucratic institutions accountable through the effective exercise of conscience.
Contact: Douglas Kim, GAP External Relations Officer
Contact: Dylan Blaylock, GAP Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 137
Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.