When it comes to an angry government the ending can be:

  • Acute Radiation Sickness (FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko)
  • imprisonment (whistleblower Chelsea Manning)
  • 'car accidents' (journalist Serena Shim).
  • Also according to NSA Whistleblower William Binney framing is another tactic used
  • and exposing damaging information gathered either on the target or his loved ones.

I'm guessing physical violence against loved ones is also part of the menu, depending on the damage the whistleblower did or may do.

What measures can whistleblowers take to protect themselves from a government that wants to silence them or make an example of them?

  • $\begingroup$ This question might be better suited for a site like Politics.SE, since Worldbuilding is for creating fictional story worlds. $\endgroup$
    – John Locke
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 22:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JohnLocke many questions fit into several stack exchanges and it's established that fictional is not a necessary requirement for this one. $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 22:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In what country do you live where John le Carré, Frederick Forsyth, Viktor Suvorov, Daniel Silva, Stieg Larsson, and spy fiction in general are forbidden and unavailable, yet they allow you to post questions Stack Exchange? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 23:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Fermi - seriously? Read Stieg Larsson - it's valid, current, and almost everything in it is real-world. $\endgroup$
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:57
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    $\begingroup$ There was once a question on security.stackexchange from someone in China asking for help because the police in their area were installing spyware on everyones' phones. Literally, "Unlock your phone and give it to me so we can install this spyware." and randomly stopping people to check and make sure the spyware was kept up to date. So, once you get this figured out, be sure to put it to good use. $\endgroup$
    – Loduwijk
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 20:33

4 Answers 4


Don't get caught.

Leak the information anonymously. Save the most explosive info for a dead man drop where it gets released automatically should you die.

You have the dark network and wikileaks, public access points and war driving. Plenty of ways to get stuff out untraceable which is used by reporters and informants all the time now.


Do you know who was the one who leaked Panama Papers? Or the documents that wikileaks shared?

If you don't know who you can't kill them.
If they know escape to places where killing you can be rally hard. Snowden and Assagne cases.

Also getting killed is the price you need to be able to pay to be whistleblower. With the hope that your death will also attract more attentions to problems you talked about.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A lot of the wikileaks stuff came from Manning. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 11:06


for as hard as it will be: As long as the government can't find them it can't harm them. The first thing would be to not be identified and if they get identified the next possibility would be to not be found. It's dangerous bot probably what happens most of the time till they fail

Blackmail them

It's probably the riskiest way, but when you get the gov by its balls and they can't kill you, you are at the safest possible spot. You just need to keep the blackmail up and make sure they can't escape it

Run for the hills

get out of the reach of the government. That's what keeps whistle-blowers alive in real live: Get into another country or place, where your government can't get you. Not a joyful live, but probably save.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The biggest issue with running after the papers are leaked is that they will notice you are running. Usually information access if controlled or there is some form of record indicating who was in the area, who had access and who accessed it. If you suddenly disappear after a leak your marking yourself with a pretty noticeable target. $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 6:44

Find a government that will save you

During Operation Nifty Package Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega took refuge in the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See to escape US Officials.

More recently, Edward Snowden was granted asylum in Russia.

In the early-2000s the UK refused to extradite traitorous bastard businessman Boris Berezovsky and Chechen terrorist separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev, after the UK granted political asylum.

While it doesn't always work when hiding from the Russians, as was the case with Alexander Litvinenko and Leon Trotsky, it seems to be good as long as you're not hiding from the Russians.


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