What should we call Reality Winner, the 25-year-old low-level employee for a government contractor who allegedly mailed secret intelligence files to a news organization? To federal prosecutors, she’s a criminal leaker, while others, like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, have lionized her as a whistleblower in need of support.
What’s the difference?
The answer isn’t cut and dry, yet it carries huge legal consequence. Federal laws protect whistleblowers who provide evidence of government wrongdoing. But they must share the sensitive information through specific official channels to avoid arrest or reprisals at work.
Leakers, on the other hand, can become targets for prosecution for mishandling classified information. Not all leak are crimes, however. Sharing unclassified materials — such as former FBI Director James Comey did with some of his memos about Continue reading "Is Reality Winner A Leaker, A Whistleblower Or Something Else?"