2013 Sam Adams Award recipient Edward Snowden has now formally received the symbolic candlestick prize given annually by a group of retired CIA officers for members of the intelligence community who exhibit integrity in intelligence. The award was conferred in Moscow last night in a ceremony that brought together former Sam Adams recipients who are some of the most prominent whistleblowers in recent history, including former NSA Senior Analyst Thomas Drake, former Department of Justice Ethics Advisor Jesselyn Radack, and former FBI agent Coleen Rowley, along with activist and former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern.
Snowden was also recently a finalist for the 2013 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought awarded by the European Parliament. The Sam Adams Award is significant as an endorsement by former intelligence workers of his actions as a whistleblower who revealed dragnet US surveillance in June 2013, and as an asylum-seeker who fled to Russia later that month.
The award also offered a rare glimpse of a stateless American deprived of his passport and forced into asylum abroad. Jesselyn Radack, now the National Security & Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project (GAP), called this a worldwide “trend” and noted:
"Mr. Snowden is not free to go where he wants. Laura Poitras is living in Germany and does not feel she can return to the US without being detained. I believe Glenn Greenwald harbors similar concerns because his partner was detained. These are all Americans who are being penalized for telling the truth and practicing journalism. Also, WikiLeaks journalist Sarah Harrison is stranded in Russia with Mr. Snowden because of the prospect of being detained on terrorism charges in the UK. It's abhorrent.”
Of Snowden’s health and general demeanor, Ms. Radack noted: “Edward looks great. He's centered, articulate, and closely following the issues, both in the United States and globally.”
Radack relayed Snowden's positive descriptions of Russia and the US.
“He is grateful he was granted asylum by Russia after being rendered stateless by the US government. He loves America and wants to see it returned to its democratic ideals, which are completely antithetical to a closed and secret society that make for turn-key tyranny. In the meantime, he is integrating and adapting to his new life in Russia.”
“It’s clear that people of conscience within the intelligence community — people who are clearly in-the-know — condone Mr. Snowden’s actions,” stated Beatrice Edwards, GAP Executive Director. “This one fact speaks volumes and we expect to know more in the coming days.”GAP champions government and corporate accountability and transparency by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. Since its founding in 1977, GAP has fought to make large bureaucratic institutions accountable through the effective exercise of conscience.
Editor's Note (clarification): The Sam Adams Award is neither administered nor awarded by GAP.
Douglas Kim is External Relations Officer for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.