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A society in panic of reputation?

"Today, we must acknowledge that the belief that whistleblowers would be appreciated was an illusion," says Harald Stanghelle.


"Stand Up for Truth" is a worldwide mobilization for greater understanding of the importance of whistleblowers to democracy, and to strengthen the situation of whistleblowers and to focus on whistleblowers and their interaction with the media. Whistleblowers are crucial if you want to strengthen openness and truth in social life. All democracy depends on the support of a well-informed population. This is not possible when important – and sometimes illegal – political decisions are hidden from the public. One example is the new disclosures surrounding the international free trade agreement for services, TISA, which is to be debated in the Storting.

Wikileaks. The TISA agreement, which will, among other things, push forward competition and privatization of public services in all fields, is negotiated with a high degree of secrecy with Norway as an active driver. This is despite the fact that Norwegian politicians have not received the information they want from Foreign Minister Børge Brende.

On June 3, Wikileaks leaked 17 documents about the secret negotiations. These will be central when the international trade agreement TISA is to be debated in the Storting. When asked if she is satisfied with Wikileaks' revelations, Liv Signe Navarsete (Sp) answers that it has been difficult to get clarifying answers from, among others, Brende: "We have repeatedly asked for information from both Foreign Minister Børge Brende and European Minister Vidar Helgesen about negotiations, but it is difficult to get any clarifying answer. It is an important point here that we get to know more from Wikileaks than from our own government, "she told DN last week. "There is no doubt that Wikileaks contributes to democracy and public enlightenment, which is a crucial part of democracy. Without an enlightened public, there is no democracy, and here Wikileaks has again contributed to the public on important issues. It's a little bad to say that, "said Navarsete.

Leaks needed. On Wednesday, June 3, several exciting events were organized with Nordic human rights defenders, journalists and whistleblowers in front of the Storting, in the Literature House and at Voksenåsen. Several well-known US whistleblowers attended the events, including Daniel Ellsberg, Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, Coleen Rowley and Norman Solomon. All of these have marked themselves in opposition to US authorities' persecution of whistleblowers as well as mass surveillance. Ellsberg, the former Pentagon analyst who leaked what was titled the Pentagon papers to The New York Times newspaper in 1971, believes leaks have been absolutely necessary to reveal US use of torture against prisoners, massive surveillance of US and other nationals, and war crimes in the form of drone attacks against civilians.

All the scandals of the last decade have led to political change in the United States, but the only ones that have been punished in retrospect are the whistleblowers themselves. Now he pays tribute Chelsea Manning, who has sacrificed to make known what happened during the Iraq war, and Edward Snowden, which has played a crucial role in publicizing the United States' enormous surveillance structure, which has created debate and has had major implications for US law.

Asylum. Snowden, who has also been nominated for the Peace Prize, has now been awarded the Bjørnson Prize for his disclosures on state surveillance. Among other things, the NSA scandal showed that the United States has been conducting electronic espionage against its own citizens, allied countries, the UN, the EU, NATO, the World Bank and the IMF. Will the Government allow Snowden to enter the country to receive the award at this year's Bear Son Seminar, which will take place in Molde on September 5 without risking being arrested and extradited to the United States? This is despite the fact that several law firms consider that Norway does not have legal coverage to extradite Snowden to the United States, where he is charged with espionage. Jesselyn Radack, who is both Edward Snowden's and Thomas Drake's attorney, has himself been subject to investigation, prosecution and flight bans – even after she was acquitted of charges. According to her, Snowden, who has spent the last two years in Russia on the run from the US authorities, aims to get back to the United States. A temporary asylum in another western country is the most likely way to begin your return journey. "Norway is one of the countries that should give my client asylum," says Radack, receiving support from Ellsberg.

Alerts are sacrificing to give us a better future, but those who do not usually do well.

Harald Stanghelle, editor of Aftenposten and chairman of the Norwegian Editors' Association, in his appeal to the Storting, encourages Storting President Olemic Thommessen to congratulate Snowden on the Bjørnson Prize. "For a long time we had hoped that whistleblowers had more spacious conditions in an increasingly liberal society – and that we tolerated the open, critical input. That the voices from within were welcome, because they revealed, improves us as a society. Today we must acknowledge that the belief that whistleblowers would be appreciated was an illusion, "exclaims Stangehelle, before asking Thommessen to acknowledge how crucial Snowden's efforts have been for a more open society.

"Terrorism". Stanghelle also points out that it is only a month since shop steward Jan Erik Skog and police officer Robin Schaefer received the Fritt Ord award, and that neither the police director nor the Minister of Justice saw any reason to congratulate Schaefer and thank him for his efforts. "All too often we see examples of a system that is in a panicked fear of ending up in a bad light. A system that rather pursues the whistleblower than clean up the reprehensible things that have been warned about, "says Stanghelle. "In the key institutions of Norwegian society, the reputation tyranny is breaking healthy criticism. Despite all this, there are strong whistleblowers who do not allow themselves to be broken. Alerts that drive public Norway forward, "says Stanghelle.

After September 11, 2001, terrorism became a kind of sesame word that allows for certain accesses, as the term witches used to be. Among other things, has the term intellectual terrorism has been created to denote those who criticize the increasingly widespread state apparatus, while civil disobedience has gone from being classified as political activism to terrorism. In other words, opposition to leading politics and the state can be beaten much harder than before. Hundreds of whistleblowers have risked their future to tell the world about secret activities and agreements that threaten justice and democracy or that could lead to war. Alerts are sacrificing to give us a better future, but those who do not usually do well. At best, they are at risk of losing their jobs and pushed out into the cold. It is important to ensure the safety of people who choose to go public with important information that governments and institutions of power want to keep hidden.

Colleen Rowley, who lost her job in the FBI after notifying serious mistakes in the FBI's own work in the period leading up to September 11, 2001, believes that the harsh sanctions the United States authorities are taking against whistleblowers are also an attack on freedom of speech. "This is a war against the free press and against free speech to hide the abuse and embarrassment that security services make. All democracy requires informed citizens, and in the years after September 11, 2011, the authorities have kept very important information hidden, ”she says.

Papazian is a freelance journalist.

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