Birkenfeld's father has written a Thanksgiving Day letter to President Obama, personally asking for clemency for his son.
The US Justice Department believed that Birkenfeld's revelations were essentially too little and too late, and sentenced him to 40 months in prison for conspiracy. To date, he is the only person, including the evaders themselves, to do time for the tax scheme.
Kohn says Birkenfeld fits the definition of a whistleblower and should not be considered a criminal. "He did not initiate the plan or set it up," says Kohn. "The entire program was established years ago by UBS and Birkenfeld was just hired to work there. When he found out what was going on, he reported it to UBS and quit his job."
"He's a classic whistleblower," adds Kohn. "He's someone who was in on the inside. That's how you learn all the gory details and then he turned in the leadership."
Birkenfeld has served 10 months, or about 25 percent of his sentence. The fact that US authorities turned on a key witness who exposed hundreds of US tax evaders is "outrageous and repugnant," according to Kohn.
"The tax department, which I don't think has ever had a whistleblower in its life, for whatever reason decided to prosecute him," says Kohn, who has authored or co-authored five books on whistleblower law.
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For 20 years, The National Whistleblowers Center has advocated in the courts and before congress for people who speak out against wrongdoing in the workplace organization.
Stephen Kohn is the executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center. He holds a JD from Northeastern School of Law and an MA in political science from Brown University. NWC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. It is affiliated with The National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund, which provides legal referrals to whistleblowers in search of competent counsel.