After the announcement Friday that charges had been filed against NSA leaker Edward Snowden under the Espionage Act, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the prosecution solidified the Obama administration’s “absolutely atrocious record” toward whistle-blowers.

“The Espionage Act is a 1917 statute that was enacted under the Woodrow administration, designed to criminalize dissent against World War I. And for that reason, it has been used very sparingly before Barack Obama became president,” Greenwald explained during a telephone interview on Cooper’s program “AC 360.”

He continued that before Obama’s presidency, just three people had been prosecuted. During Obama’s more than four years in the White House, that number has increased by seven.

“Under President Obama, we now have seven, more than double the number of all previous presidents combined,” Greenwald said. “I think it is one thing to charge Snowden with crimes, but to charge him with espionage which is when somebody works for a foreign government or sells secrets, given what he did is the kind of extreme excess that the Obama administration is guilty of for years now.”

Snowden has admitted to leaking top-secret documents about the NSA’s surveillance program to Greenwald and other journalists. According to The Washington Post, he has been charged under the Espionage Act with the unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information. He also faces charges of theft.

The former NSA contractor is reportedly somewhere in Hong Kong, where he’s been since the surveillance story broke this month.

(h/t The Huffington Post)

— Posted by Tracy Bloom.


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