Timothy B. Lee
Washington Post 
June 10, 2013
The whistleblower who disclosed classified documents regarding NSA surveillance to The Washington Post and the Guardian has gone public.  He is Edward Snowden, 29, an employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
Rather than face charges in the United States, Snowden has fled to Hong Kong. He plans to seek asylum in a nation with a strong civil liberties record, such as Iceland.
Americans are familiar with stories of dissidents fleeing repressive regimes such as those in China or Iran and seeking asylum in the United States. Snowden is in the opposite position. He’s an American leaving the land of his birth because he fears persecution.
Four decades ago, Daniel Ellsberg surrendered to federal authorities  to face charges of violating the Espionage Act. During his trial, he was allowed to go free on bail, giving him a chance to explain his actions to the media. His case was eventually thrown out after it was revealed that the government had wiretapped him illegally.
Bradley Manning, a soldier who released classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, has had a very different experience. Manning was held for three years without trial, including 11 months when he was held in de facto solitary confinement. During some of this period, he was forced to sleep naked at night, allegedly as a way to prevent him from committing suicide. The United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture hascondemned  this as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Article 16 of the convention against torture.”