Whistleblower Edward Snowden, in a live-link appearance in London, stated that becoming an “international fugitive,” to expose the U.S. domestic spying apparatus, was worth it due to the benefits to the public.
The former NSA contractor said that he believes there has been progress made in the fight for transparency and accountability since his revelations almost two years ago.
Speaking on a live-link from Moscow, at an event in London organized by Amnesty International, Snowden said, “The difference is that you get a different quality of government when they are accountable to the public.”
Even though he can’t live in the U.S. and can “no longer see (his) family,” Snowden said, he believes what “we’ve all benefited from publicly, make(s) it all worth it.”
“It has been incredibly rewarding, incredibly gratifying,” he added, making note that there has been a global media backlash against government abuse of power, with some courts acting to reign them in.
He did say, however, that certain states, specifically the British government, are actually going the opposite direction by reforming their surveillance laws to curtail individual freedom in the name of security.
“Rather than preserving civil liberties, they are trying to limit it,” Snowden said.
He went on to express his gratitude for what the entire experience has taught him.
“I think the most liberating thing about burning your life to the ground, and becoming an international fugitive, or so I’m told, is that you no longer have to worry about tomorrow, you think about today,” Snowden said.
Snowden has been stuck in Russia since the U.S. revoked his passport while in the midst of international travel. When asked where he saw himself in five years he answered: “I’ve applied for asylum in 21 different countries, including western Europe, I’m still waiting for them to get back to me.”
While demonized by politicians in Washington, D.C., he is looked at as something of a hero across most of the world. Here in the U.S., although a polarizing figure, many Americans look at Snowden as a true American patriot.
It is no wonder that the US government considers Snowden’s actions “treason.” Treason is defined by U.S. Code § 2381:
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies.
In other words, treason is when you help the enemy of the United States. Snowden leaked these documents to the people of the US, which means that the US government must consider the people to be the enemy.
Snowden put it very simply, when he stated that current surveillance methods allow government the ability to peer into “anybody’s life at any given time.”
“Do we really want government watching everybody all the time?”
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.