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Ex-NSA worker charged in leaks case honored

WASHINGTON — A former National Security Agency employee accused of mishandling classified information is warning that as the United States elevates national security to a state religion, whistleblowers and dissenters are at risk of being marked as traitors.

Thomas Drake was awarded the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling on Wednesday by the Fertel Foundation and the Nation Institute. The groups said he was honored and given a $10,000 stipend for “risking his career and freedom to blow the whistle on mismanagement and illegalities” at NSA. Drake’s speech was the first time he has spoken publicly since being charged after a probe into leaks of classified information to a newspaper.

Drake says the government is making whistleblowing a crime. But he says he won’t “live in silence to cover for the government’s sins.”