Bernie Sanders pledges to end prosecution of whistleblowers

Progressives hail Sanders’ pledge to end the use of this out-dated act.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders vowed, if he were to be elected president in 2020, to end the practice of using the Espionage Act to prosecute government whistleblowers. 

He criticizes the Trump administration and the Obama administration for using the out-dated, century-old Espionage Act. President Obama had prosecuted eight people accused of leaking to the media under the act and President Trump has fallen in line with breaking that record.  

The Espionage Act of 1917 is a U.S. federal law that made it a federal offense to use “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the Constitution, the government, the American uniform, or the flag.” It was passed to “suppress opposition to World War I and now considers leakers to effectively be spies, makes a fair trial impossible, as relevant evidence is classified and kept from the defense, and the bar for conviction is low. The law also comes with stiffer criminal penalties and longer sentences than more obvious charges that might be leveled, such as mishandling classified intelligence,” says The Intercept.

According to Common Dreams, in an interview with The Intercept’s Ryan Grim, Sanders condemned President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the Ukraine whistleblower and emphasized the crucial role whistleblowers play in the political process.

“The law is very clear: Whistleblowers have a very important role to play in the political process and I am very supportive of the courage of that whistleblower, whoever he or she may be,” Sanders said. 

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