Reality Winner and the war on whistleblowers # Ideas are bulletproof

Reality Winner and the war on whistleblowers

Thursday 22 February 2018

Courage Foundation and Expose Facts Organiser of Truthtelling in Trump’s America.

Who is Reality Winner? A discussion with three US national security whistleblowers:

  • Thomas Drake (US)
  • Lisa Ling (US)
  • Jesselyn Radack (US)

It has been eight months since FBI agents arrested Reality Leigh Winner, a young female contractor and an Air Force veteran with top secret clearance. Reality is accused of leaking a classified report about Russian interference during the 2016 US presidential election.

Despite promises of running "the most transparent administration ever", the Barack Obama presidency wielded the Espionage Act against more whistleblowers than all previous presidencies combined. As a consequence of choosing to shoot the messengers rather than heed their warnings about indiscriminate surveillance, the impact of military technology and human rights abuses, those programmes have now been handed over to the Trump administration largely unreformed.

As Reality Winner awaits trial, her treatment gives us a glimpse of what we can expect in the coming years.

  • How is the situation for whistleblowers deteriorating under Donald Trump, when truth itself is under attack?
  • What can we do to help Reality?
  • And what are the lessons for the UK and Europe?
  • Can we build a politics more welcoming to whistleblowers without a rethink of the fundamentals?

We’re privileged to bring together three leading figures with deep personal experience of these issues:

  • NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, whose experience of being betrayed by the official channels informed Edward Snowden;
  • Lisa Ling, who saw the impact of the US drone programme for herself before blowing the whistle and is in close contact with Reality Winner’s family;
  • Jesselyn Radack who blew the whistle herself at the US Department of Justice and is now a leading attorney for national security whistleblowers in the United States, including the other members of our panel.

Date and time.

  • Thu 1 March 2018
  • 18:30 – 21:00 GMT


  • Juju’s Bar and Stage
  • 15 Hanbury Street
  • London - E1 6QR

The Courage Foundation runs Reality Winner’s official defence fund.

Official website - Free Reality Winner

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