Free Freya Newman
This petition had 390 supporters
All whistle-blowers deserve protection.
"A sense of injustice motivated Ms. Newman, not greed or a desire for notoriety or to embarrass Ms. Abbott... She was not aware that her actions were against the law or that her identity would become known."
On May 21 2014, the online news outlet New Matilda published an exclusive report: "Leaked Documents Cast Doubt On Abbott's $60K Scholarship Claims." In it, they contested the official story that Frances Abbott, the daughter of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, had won a $60 000 scholarship to the Whitehouse Institute of Design "on merit."
Instead, it was alleged that the "Managng (sic) Director Scholarship" had been offered to Frances Abbott after lobbying from Leanne Whitehouse, the founder and owner of the Whitehouse Institute of Design. Further, the scholarship had (and has) not been declared by Tony Abbott in his register of pecuniary interests.
These details had been provided to New Matilda by Freya Newman, a 21 year old student and part-time librarian at the Whitehouse Institute. She has pleaded guilty to 2 counts of accessing restricted data, under Section 308(H) of the NSW Crimes Act.
She has also written a letter of apology to Frances Abbott. There have been delays in her sentencing, and there have been pushes for a conviction to be recorded.
But we, the undersigned, believe that Freya Newman should not be punished in this way. She acted from what has been described as a genuine "sense of injustice" and what we would firmly describe as the public interest. Whistleblowers in government organisations are protected by the law, Freya is not. The police agree that her alleged offence is on the "lower end of the scale," which does not justify the adverse attention, accusations and a possible criminal record - all of which will affect her for the rest of her life - physically, mentally, and professionally.
While the matter is currently before the courts, we entreat you to Free Freya Newman. The punishment being meted out to her for providing information in the public interest is arguably unjust. She is, in our eyes, being punished not only for her alleged actions, but for embarrassing the Prime Minister and his family.
All whistleblowers deserve protection. We demand answers and action beyond what has (and/or has not) been provided so far.
We write and sign this petition as support and solidarity for the singular bravery of Freya Newman. Frances Abbott is claimed to have accepted Freya's apology - why continue punishing her?
Image via Andrew Koubaridis on Twitter
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