Hopefully, from now on, those brave enough to buck the system and become government whistleblowers in the 21st Century won't have to choose places like Russia or China to find tentative refuge. Or, if they do at least enjoy a network of outside support from appreciative, conscientious citizens of the world.

HAMBURG – A new foundation to support whistleblowers is being launched by former British intelligence agent Annie Machon, whose resignation and revelations about U.K. spying activities in the 1990s sparked controversy echoing this year’s NSA news.

Speaking at the Chaos Communication Congress (CCC) here, Machon said the foundation would be called the Courage Fund to Protect Journalistic Sources.

“Crucially, we want to encourage other whistleblowers to come forward,” she said. “It is a very frightening and lonely process to go through. We need to show that they can not only survive the process, but even flourish.”

Lonely indeed.

The story comes to us from Wired.com

As an intelligence officer, Machon worked for six years at the British service MI5 before resigning along with her partner back in 1997 after making public a number of allegations about secret and potentially illegal activities conducted by the British government.

Among these, they alleged that intelligence services had been keeping secret files on government ministers, had illegally tapped phones, had failed to stop Irish Republican Army bombs and subsequently lied about their actions, that people known to be innocent had been convicted of bombing crimes, and – most explosively – that MI6 had sought to have Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi assassinated.
Machon's partner ultimately went to jail twice for the revelations in the following year after both were forced to flee Britain -- once in France and then again when they returned home. In the years since, Machon has served as a civil rights activist, and is the European director of the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) group.

Recently, in a speech, Machon excoriated world governments for undermining civil and privacy rights of their citizens, explaining to her audience that she had learned what it was like to live her life without privacy.

“It is incredibly corrosive to the human spirit to know that everything you say, everything you do, even if you just want to have a private conversation with your mother, is being listened to,” she said. “Now we all know we are being listened to and surveyed in this amazingly Panopticon-like manner.”

People like Snowden and Manning must be given support, she said, or civil liberties will continue to be eroded.

“So many journalists write so many stories, but what happens to the whistleblowers? They’re left swinging in the wind,” she said. “If they can’t survive the process of coming forward, then we will not have these people."

Apparently, WikiLeaks also started a fund called the Journalistic Source Protection Defense Fund to help Snowden fight his legal battles to come.

Donating to either one of these worthy causes is a good way to start the new year, folks. Please do so if you're so inclined.

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