Slideshow: Eight Whistleblowers Charged Under the Espionage Act

  • submit to reddit

James Hitselberger

James Hitselberger served as a Navy linguist and is charged with taking classified documents and donating at least some of them to Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, where a collection is kept in his name. It includes “flyers, leaflets, serial issues and photographs relating to the post-2003 insurgency and American military occupation in Iraq.” One Navy commander said the documents had the potential to compromise “everything with respect to source operations in Iraq.”

After Hitselberger was dismissed from his post for removing these documents while serving in Bahrain, he spent several months traveling Europe instead of returning to America, and the prosecution argued that this made him appear to be a flight risk. He was arrested in Kuwait in October 2012, but in December was released from jail when a judge expressed skepticism that he was in fact a flight risk. “If [Hitselberger’s] intention was, ‘I know I’m in some sort of trouble. Let’s see if the whole thing blows over,’ is that the same as actively fleeing?” US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras asked. “There was no legal requirement that he return to the US… to flee you have to flee from something.”

Hitselberger was placed under “home detention” in his aunt’s house in Arlington, VA to await his trial, a date for which has not yet been set. In April 2013, he was allowed to visit the Library of Congress to conduct research to help his defense.

John Light is a reporter and producer for the Moyers team. His work has appeared at The Atlantic, Grist, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, Vox and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. He's a graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @LightTweeting.
Lauren Feeney is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and multimedia journalist whose work has appeared on air and online at PBS, Al Jazeera English and other outlets. A former producer for Moyers & Company, she was a contributor for PBS' Need to Know and led web teams for Wide Angle and Women, War & Peace. She is a graduate of Bard College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
  • submit to reddit