As the corruption trials of five U.S. Navy officers get underway in a federal court in San Diego this week, we’re excited. But we're also angry.
Excited because our hit podcast “Fat Leonard” has become a central part of the trials. And angry? Well, angry because Judge Janis Sammartino, who is presiding, ordered us to hand over our raw interview tapes — an order which, First Amendment experts say, was a huge blow to press freedom.
Many Whale Hunting subscribers may not have listened to Fat Leonard. So this will all probably make more sense if you take some time on a run or at the gym to catch up. (Here on Apple or here on Spotify.)
Here’s the background: Early last year, I smuggled a microphone to Leonard Francis, a Malaysian military contractor who is in home detention in San Diego. Over 20 hours of raw audio, Leonard told me the shocking, unvarnished story of how, over two decades, he set up a Mafia-like organization inside the U.S. Navy.
Leonard's company supplied food, fuel and security to Navy ships in the Pacific. In return for overcharging by tens of millions of dollars, Leonard delivered an endless stream of prostitutes, fine dinners, cigars, and vacations to Navy officers. He lived in a $130 million mansion in Singapore with 20 luxury cars.
Leonard was motivated to speak to me because he said he’s a scapegoat. Arrested in 2013, he pleaded guilty two years later and has been cooperating with the government. In 2017 he was allowed out of jail for home arrest after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
Whale Hunting is FREE if you subscribe. If you want to support what we're doing please feel free to opt for the paid subscription.