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Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden can run—but his own revelations about United States surveillance indicate that he cannot hide. People who reveal such secrets, rather than having criminal motives, act out of conscience—in his case to reveal an eavesdropping operation on such a scale that the public in his own democracy and others should have a right to know about it, at least in the general terms in which he has described Prism.

There is no evidence that he has put lives at risk. But the US reacts badly to the spilling of its secrets and goes to great lengths to…

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