(CN) - Treatment of whistle-blowers cost the United States 13 ranks in a 2014 press freedom index, while Ecuador jumped 25 places for legislation that broke up private control of the airwaves.
The United States now occupies 46th place between Romania and Haiti in the annual list compiled by Reporters Without Borders. Ecuador rose to the 95th spot between Bolivia and Israel, whose position dropped dramatically last year once the Paris-based press watchdog stopped differentiating between "Israel (Israeli Territory)" and "Israel (Extra-territorial)."
Citing a "war on whistle-blowers" and the "relentless persecution of journalists" in the United States, WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said he expected a "more dramatic" drop for Uncle Sam.
U.S. law enforcement has eyed the secret-spilling website ever since the publication of more than 700,000 military and diplomatic files provided by Chelsea Manning, a former Army private then known as Bradley.
Arrested in May 2010, Manning finally went to trial more than three years later, and is now serving a 35-year sentence inside a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for the disclosures.
Bemoaning this "extremely long sentence," Reporters Without Borders noted that Manning is hardly alone in heavy prosecution under the Espionage Act.
"No fewer that eight individuals have been charged under the Espionage Act since Obama became president, compared with three during Bush's two terms," the report states.
It is important to note that this pertains only to Espionage Act charges concerning leaks to the press. Of those, President George W. Bush charged only pro-Israel lobbyist Lawrence Franklin under the Espionage Act during his two terms. The three prior uses of the statute represent the combined total of all of President Barack Obama's predecessors.
Under the Obama administration, "the whistleblower is the enemy," the 32-page report states.
Obama's defenders point out that the prosecutions of former CIA agent John Kiriakou and ex-National Security Agency whistle-blower Thomas Drake on his watch actually began during the Bush administration.
Kiriakou is now serving a 30-month federal prison sentence for disclosing the name of a covert agent involved in so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," widely condemned as torture.
Drake's prosecution for telling the Baltimore Sun about the National Security Administration's Trailblazer project fell apart before trial, but not before destroying his career in U.S. intelligence and forcing him to work at an Apple store in Maryland.
Seizing the phone records of reporters from the Associated Press also lumped the United States with Brazil as "New World Giants That Set a Bad Example," according to one heading of the report.
Meanwhile former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, ensconced in Russia to avoid prosecution for leaking secrets of U.S. mass surveillance to the Washington Post and the Guardian, faces a fresh indictment for alleged Espionage Act violations.
From his two-year asylum in Ecuador's London embassy, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange briefly had a platform on Russia's state-owned media outlet RT for a talk show called "The World Tomorrow," which aired his interview with Ecuador President Rafael Correa.
Though Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden on sexual misconduct allegations, the Australian native calls it a ruse to extradite him to the United States for his work as a publisher.
The United States has long accused Russia and Ecuador of hypocrisy for their vocal support of WikiLeaks under the banner of press freedom.