Snowden: Jury need to choose whether NSA leakages were ‘ideal or incorrect’

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Edward Snowden speaks from another location at the WIRED25 Festival in October 2018. On Monday he repeated his demand to make an argument in court that his leakages benefited the general public.


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Edward Snowden does not argue about whether he broke the law by dripping the information of top-secret NSA monitoring programs to reporters in 2013. Instead, he states there need to be an exception for whistle-blowers who launch info for the advantage of the general public.

Snowden repeated this position in an interview with CBS News Monday. (Note: CBS News and CNET are both owned by moms and dad business CBS.) The previous federal professional was charged in 2013 with breaking the Espionage Act, and has actually resided in Russia since. Snowden informed CBS News that he was making a connection to Latin America in Moscow when his passport was canceled, leaving him stranded in Russia. A go back to the United States would require him to deal with a trial that he states would be poorly blocked from the general public and would not let the jury consider his inspirations.

“This is the bottom line that any American should require,” Snowden stated. “We don’t want people thrown in prison without the jury being able to decide that what they did was right or wrong.”

The interview comes as Snowden prepares to launch his narrative, Permanent Record, on Tuesday. Snowden’s disclosures exposed numerous monitoring tools utilized by the NSA, consisting of the dragnet collection of phone records and the mass collection of online interactions through the Upstream and PRISM programs.

The NSA didn’t right away react to an ask for remark.


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The leaks prompted a public debate about previously covert surveillance tools that demonstrated the US government’s deep reach into global internet infrastructure. The phone records collection was curtailed in 2015 and reportedly shuttered earlier this year, though the Trump administration is reportedly hoping to extend the authority to carry out the program instead of letting it expire in December. PRISM and Upstream were renewed in January 2018.

The disclosures also helped spur a shift in the tech industry toward publicly defending users’ rights to privacy, as companies fought back against the broad rights of the federal government to secretly demand user data and against efforts to break through encryption tools that protect user data on phones and other devices.

Snowden told CBS News that Russian agents immediately sought to get his cooperation in sharing information about US intelligence practices, but that he declined.

“I said ‘look, that’s not how this is going to be. That is not how this is going to work. I do not have any information,'” Snowden said. He added that he had destroyed any information he’d had before he arrived in Russia.

He also told CBS News he’s not asking for a pass or pardon. However, at the same time as Snowden’s story was dramatized in a Hollywood film in 2016, three rights organizations including the ACLU, which represents Snowden, did ask President Barack Obama to pardon him. Snowden has also made the case that the presidential pardon would be appropriate in his circumstances. On the “Stand with Snowden” website, the organizations said that the campaign wasn’t meant to go beyond Obama’s presidency.

“While Obama did not pardon Snowden,” the website says, “the pardon campaign succeeded in galvanizing a community of more than 1 million people who believe Snowden deserves more than a life of exile or years in prison.”

Correction, 3:27 p.m.: Notes that the release of the film about Snowden and the launch of the Pardon Snowden campaign were in 2016.

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