2014-06-10 Launch of Courage and Snowden Campaign in Berlin 11 June

Courage - LAUNCH PRESS RELEASE - Monday 9th June 2014

Courage - the organisation running Snowden's defence fund - launches in Berlin this Wednesday, 11th June

  • speakers include Wolfgang Kaleck, Edward Snowden's German lawyer; Sarah Harrison, Acting Director of Courage; WikiLeaks Publisher Julian Assange
  • Edward Snowden - Courage's first beneficiary - will send a message to the event
  • a new campaign to show the breadth of international support for Edward Snowden will be announced on the night

Courage, a new international organisation dedicated to providing support to truth-tellers, holds its official launch event in Berlin on the evening of Wednesday 11th June. Courage runs Edward Snowden's official defence fund. Courage also advocates for the protection of journalists' sources and the public's right to receive their information as guaranteed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Wednesday's event will also mark the beginning of a new campaign for Edward Snowden as his temporary asylum in Russia approaches its end. Edward Snowden's German lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck will explain his client's current legal situation. Sarah Harrison, Acting Director of Courage, who facilitated Edward Snowden's exit from Hong Kong and spent four months in Russia, including 40 days in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport securing Snowden's freedom in exile, will underline the importance of ongoing public pressure.

Courage launches with an advisory board that includes former intelligence whistleblowers Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers), Thomas Drake (NSA), Ray McGovern (CIA) and Annie Machon (MI5), along with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation John Perry Barlow, and professor of law and legal history at Columbia University Eben Moglen. For further details on Courage advisory board members, see http://couragefound.org/advisory-board/.

Gavin MacFadyen, a Courage Trustee and Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, says:

The Trustees started Courage because it is imperative for free speech and an open independent press to support whistleblowers, particularly those who risk their lives and freedom to bring critical information to the public. At the time Courage started there were no international organisations providing the support Edward Snowden needed to remain free and none organising support for whistleblowers to come. Knowing the central role whistleblowers have played in the major groundbreaking disclosures of our time, it is clear that without freedom and protection for truth-tellers, there is no freedom or protection for journalists. And none for the public. Courage has never been more needed and essential to a free press.

The other two Trustees of Courage are Julian Assange, Publisher of WikiLeaks; and Barbora Bukovská, Senior Director for Law and Policy at Article 19.

The organisation's launch comes a year after Edward Snowden revealed himself as the source of NSA revelations on mass surveillance and takes place in one of the countries where the reaction has been most significant. In the past week, the German federal prosecutor has announced the reopening of a formal investigation into allegations that the German Chancellor's mobile phone was monitored and a parliamentary inquiry into mass surveillance is ongoing.

Sarah Harrison says:

Snowden performed a heroic act and should be supported. Courage will show the world that the public stands with Snowden and they want their governments to help protect him. For the last year people associated with Courage have worked to assist and defend Snowden against injustice. We found him safety and asylum in Russia and we raised funds to pay for his lawyers in the US, Iceland and more widely. But we are just starting - Courage is not here just for Snowden but for future Snowdens.

Additional special guests will be announced on the night. Their comments, as well as those of the others speaking, will be made available on Courage's website and Twitter feed.

Courage originally began in August 2013 as The Journalistic Source Protection Defence Fund and has run Edward Snowden's defence fund since that time. Courage's official Edward Snowden support site, previously located at http://freesnowden.is, will move to http://edwardsnowden.com to coincide with the launch. The related Twitter account will also move from @free_snowden to @CourageSnowden.

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