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The Whistleblowers Who Rocked the World

A whistleblower is an informant who exposes wrongdoing within an organization in the hope of stopping it. Whistleblowers frequently face reprisal, sometimes at the hands of the organization or group which they have accused, sometimes from related organizations, and sometimes under law. Here is a list of world’s 5 most famous whistleblowers.

1. Daniel Ellsberg

A former US military analyst employed by the RAND Corporation, in 1971, Ellsberg leaked a top-secret Pentagon study of the US government’s rationale behind its decisions during the Vietnam War. These documents, known as the Pentagon Papers, were widely published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other American newspapers.

In the years since the release of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg has become an activist, and was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2006.

2. W. Mark Felt, a.k.a. “Deep Throat”

Better known as “Deep Throat,” W. Mark Felt was an FBI agent who leaked information about the Watergate scandal to Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Following President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, Felt denied his role as a whistleblower for thirty years before revealing himself in a 2005 Vanity Fair article in which Felt was quoted as saying, “I’m the guy they called Deep Throat.”

3. Bradley Manning

While deployed in Iraq, US Army Pvt. Bradley Manning downloaded a trove of military and diplomatic information, including over 500,000 army reports and classified combat videos, to WikiLeaks. One of these videos, a recording of a US Apache helicopter opening fire on a group of civilians in Eastern Baghdad, has over 13 million views on YouTube.

On August 22, 2013, Manning declared that he is no more a man and is now a woman and took the name Chelsea Manning.

4. Julian Assange

Founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Mr Assange’s organization has been responsible for over 1.2 million leaks. Mr Assange is described by those who have worked with him as intense,  driven and highly intelligent person having an exceptional ability to crack computer codes. In mid-June 2012, Mr Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he remains after being granted political asylum by the South American country on 16th of  August 2012.

5. Aaron Swartz

Internet pioneer, skilled hacker, and creator of the social news site Reddit, at age 24, Swartz hacked into JSTOR, an academic journal database, and systematically downloaded over four million articles through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s computer network.

He was arrested by MIT campus police in 2011, and was subjected to a barrage of federal charges, including up to $1 million in fines and 50 years in prison. In January 2013, Swartz was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment.

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