INDEX ON CENSORSHIP | VOL.50 | NO.2
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Holding the rich and powerful to account
Editor MARTIN BRIGHT says whistleblowers are extraordinary people but they often pay a terrible personal price
THE IMPORTANCE OF the role of whistleblowers in exposing corruption and malpractice is well-established in law and rightly celebrated in a string of Hollywood movies from All the President’s Men to Erin Brockovich. But whistleblowers should also be celebrated as champions of free expression. The Summer 2021 edition of Index on Censorship highlights several prominent cases around the world. Brittany Winner writes exclusively about her sister, Reality, the former US intelligence specialist who leaked details of Russian interference in the 2016 American election. Winner was recently released from prison but is still prohibited from talking about the case. Her family is campaigning for a full pardon.
As an investigative journalist, I have worked with several highprofile examples, including Iraq War whistleblower Katharine Gun, the subject of the recent movie, Official Secrets, starring Keira Knightley. I know from personal experience that whistleblowers are extraordinary people, who take incredible risks to bring the rich and powerful to account. This often exacts a terrible personal price, with whistleblowers losing their livelihoods, their mental health and even their freedom.
For this issue of Index, I have examined the case of the case of Jonathan Taylor, an oil industry whistleblower who revealed a multimillion-dollar bribe network stretching from Angola and Equatorial Guinea to Iraq and Brazil. Taylor is currently stranded in Croatia awaiting extradition to Monaco, the home of the company he exposed. Index associate editor Mark Frary interviews possibly the most famous whistleblower of them all, Daniel Ellsberg, on the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the secret history of American involvement in Vietnam.
The issue also contains an exclusive interview with playwright and longtime Index supporter Tom Stoppard, Nerma Jelacic writes about how misinformation has become part of how the world sees the Syrian conflict and veteran correspondent Henry Macdonald on attacks on press freedom in Northern Ireland.
Over recent months, Index has been closely involved with the case of Maya Forstater, a woman who lost her job at a think tank after expressing her view that people cannot change their biological sex. Index intervened in her employment tribunal on free speech grounds, arguing that her gender critical views were protected under equality legislation. However, we recognise this is a controversial case that demands further discussion. We have therefore commissioned two writers to give their views about the case. Philosopher Kathleen Stock hails the judgement as a victory for free speech, while Phoenix Andrews worries about its implications for trans people.
Martin Bright is editor of Index on Censorship
MARK FRARY introduces our cover artist Tatiana Zelenskaya
Tatiana Zelenskaya was born and grew up in Bishkek, the capital of
Kyrgyzstan and studied art at the National Academy of Arts of the Kyrgyz Republic. She majored in industrial graphics, but prefers to work in a more creative direction: illustration, animations, posters and contemporary art. Zelenskaya’s work regularly covers themes such as feminism, violence and human rights and in March 2020, she was arrested for taking part in a women’s rights protest in the country. She has beenshortlisted for an Index 2021 Freedom of Expression Award.
LEFT: The artist Tatyana Zelenskaya