More whistleblower protections needed post-Snowden, report says

More whistleblower protections needed post-Snowden, report says

A free speech advocacy group is calling for increased protections for whistleblowers in a new report on Tuesday.

The report by PEN American Center says gaps in whistleblower protection laws leave government contractors such as National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden vulnerable to prosecution.

“As a government contractor, Snowden had few, if any protections under whistleblower provisions compared to intelligence employees who are hired directly by the U.S. government,” the report said.

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Snowden's release of classified information detailing U.S. surveillance practices sparked controversy.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton recently criticized Snowden — who fled the U.S. in 2013 — for not going through the appropriate channels to call attention to any wrongdoing.

“He broke the laws of the United States,” Clinton said at the first Democratic presidential debate on Oct. 13. “He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised, and I think there would have been a positive response to that."

Clinton’s claim was disputed by the website PolitiFact and by Snowden himself. "Sad to see Hillary repeat a false claim despite fact check. She could develop a reputation,” he tweeted.

The former secretary of State stepped down shortly before Snowden leaked classified data on U.S. espionage practices, including a metadata collection program that is set to expire at the end of the month.

The report sought to push back against claims that Snowden was protected by U.S. law.

“Contractors and those who leak government actions that are technically lawful but perhaps shouldn’t be receive virtually no protection from retaliation,” Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN American Center, said in a statement.

“While most Americans believe that genuine whistleblowers deserve reliable protection, our law doesn’t achieve that when it comes to hundreds of thousands of workers who deal in matters of national security.”

The release of the report comes on the same day that Snowden is scheduled to appear via videolink at a PEN American Center panel discussion of the report’s findings.