FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2023
Radim Dragomaca, [email protected]
Statement on Behalf of Whistleblower Aid Client Shannon Van Sant
Washington, D.C.- Whistleblower Aid represents Shannon Van Sant, a former employee of SupChina (later rebranded as The China Project). Ms. Van Sant has decades of experience reporting on and in China. Her expertise in the global architecture of Chinese influence operations and her first-hand experiences make her a credible and important voice on this topic.
In October 2022, prompted by her commitment to transparency and unbiased news reporting, Ms. Van Sant filed a lawful whistleblower disclosure with the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Congress. The disclosure, totaling nearly 500 pages, provides evidence supporting Ms. Van Sant’s concern that SupChina/The China Project may have been acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China. Contained within the disclosure is Ms. Van Sant’s declaration – a sworn statement made under the penalties of perjury. Her declaration, which was previously reported on by other media outlets such as Semafor, is merely one exhibit of many contained within the disclosure.
While Congress and law enforcement were the lawful recipients of this detailed whistleblower disclosure laying out evidence, Robert Guterma, The China Project’s outgoing CEO, attempts to dismiss the validity of Ms. Van Sant’s disclosure with his statements to Voice of America. Ms. Van Sant’s ongoing legal obligations to The China Project prevent her from sharing the full disclosure with the press. If The China Project would release Ms. Van Sant from those obligations, she would be glad to provide it.
Mr. Guterma’s admissions that The China Project is currently under federal investigation, which may have contributed to their decision to shut down, vindicates Ms. Van Sant and supports the merits of her allegations and evidence as a whistleblower.
Furthermore, The China Project’s assertion that Ms. Van Sant was terminated for poor performance is categorically false. As detailed in her declaration (published by Semafor on October 30, 2022) Ms. Van Sant attested that the organization’s leadership told her that she was being “let go” because she was “not in alignment” in advancing the “narrative” the organization wanted to propagate about topics and issues related to China. Moreover, internal documents establish that The China Project was prepared to offer Ms. Van Sant a generous severance package, subject to her signing a confidentiality agreement.
Mr. Guterma’s and The China Project’s public statements are merely the typical allegations whistleblowers like Ms. Van Sant regularly face: personal attacks in an attempt to undermine their integrity.
There is no question that Ms. Van Sant’s integrity is intact.
Questions about any ongoing investigations, which Mr. Guterma has himself referenced as being ongoing, should be directed to the Department of Justice.
Andrew P. Bakaj, Esq.,
Counsel to Shannon Van Sant
Whistleblower Aid is a non-profit legal organization in Washington, D.C. supporting individuals who lawfully report government and corporate law breaking. It provides assistance to individuals in the United States and abroad seeking to disclose illegal conduct, including misconduct relating to government officials, securities fraud, sexual violence, and violations of tax, labor or environmental laws. In recent years Whistleblower Aid lawyers have represented Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and the intelligence community whistleblower whose disclosures led to the first impeachment of President Trump.