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‘So to Speak’ Podcast: The First Amendment Career of Martin Garbus

Attorney Martin Garbus’ client list is a who’s who of the world’s foremost artists, politicians, corporations, scientists, and political dissidents.

In a career spanning half a century, he’s represented actors Sean Connery and Al Pacino, authors Tom Brokaw and Nancy Reagan, and even Nobel Prize winners Vaclav Havel and Andrei Sakharov.

Although Garbus holds a diverse practice, he is perhaps most famous—and in some circles, infamous—for his work in First Amendment law.

His career was chronicled in the HBO documentary Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech and in his memoir Tough Talk: How I Fought for Writers, Comics, Bigots, and the American Way. In 2007, he received PEN International’s First Amendment Award.

Martin Garbus is our guest today on So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast.

This is the inaugural episode in a series that will profile the careers of some of the world’s most prominent free speech advocates. In the episode, we dive deep into some of Garbus’ most interesting—and sometimes scary—career moments:

  • the time he smuggled a list of political prisoners out of the Soviet Union to give to President-elect Jimmy Carter on behalf of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov;
  • how he kept a copy of the Pentagon Papers in his home for Daniel Ellsberg, who was afraid the U.S. government would find them before they could be released;
  • his creative solution to protecting the publishers of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses;
  • and how his career was saved early on by a master sergeant in the army who didn’t think a man who “thinks for himself” should be court-martialed.

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To learn more about Martin Garbus, you can visit his website at

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