Newcastle University Business School

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Event will shine a light on whistleblowing and the media

The role and treatment of whistleblowers and journalists who uncover human rights abuses will be in the spotlight at a special event in Newcastle.

Revealing human rights abuses

The first two speakers at the event are prominent whistleblowers who previously worked for the US and UK governments. Former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, will be speaking about his experiences with the CIA and his role in blowing-the-whistle on the use of waterboarding as a form of torture as official US policy in the ‘war on terror'.

Also speaking will be Craig Murray, who was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan when he similarly discovered at first-hand the UK’s own complicity in practices of torture. He blew-the-whistle about what he witnessed in an effort to end these human rights violations after his concerns had been ignored by his superiors. 

The human rights lawyer, Robert Tibbo, will also be taking part in the event, discussing his own role in defending against human rights abuses. Mr Tibbo represented the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden after he leaked highly classified information about United States’ global mass-surveillance programmes. Mr Tibbo has also advised many refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong, including those who helped Mr Snowden.

They will be joined by Andrew Fowler, an investigative reporter who interviewed Edward Snowden following his revelations and, in 2010, was one of the first journalists to interview Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Mr Fowler’s latest book ‘Shooting the Messenger: Criminalising Journalism’, addresses the impact of mass surveillance and national security laws on whistleblowing and journalism.

Treatment of whistleblowers

The event has been organised by Iain Munro, Professor of Leadership and Organisational Change at Newcastle University Business School. Professor Munro has carried out much research in the fields of business ethics and power, including the topics of whistleblowing and information warfare – how information is used as both a weapon and subject of attack.

Earlier this month, new EU-wide legislation was introduced aimed at giving greater protection to potential whistleblowers in companies across Europe. The new law aims to promote "safe channels” for whistleblowers to raise their concerns both within their employing organisations and outside, without retaliation or punishment.

Professor Munro said: “The new EU whistleblower protection law is a clear step in the right direction but whistleblowers continue to be ostracised, sacked, and criminalised for their attempts to reveal the abuses of power of our governments and large corporations. The current concerns that have been expressed by the United Nations and numerous human rights groups about the appalling treatment of Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange bear witness to this unambiguous fact. 

“This event will highlight the issue of the treatment of whistleblowers and the important role of whistleblowing journalism in today’s media as well as important questions related to human rights and social justice.”

‘Whistleblowing, Human Rights and the Media’ takes place on Wednesday 15 May 13:00 - 17:00 at The Core, Bath Lane, Newcastle Helix. The event is free, but places must be reserved in advance. To register, and for more information, visit


Whistleblowing, Human Rights and the Media

published on: 2 May 2019