The US whistleblower Edward Snowden has attacked his Russian protectors by criticising the Kremlin’s human rights record and suggesting its officials have been involved in hacking US security networks.
In an interview in the Financial Times with Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of the Guardian, which first published the whistleblower’s revelations on mass surveillance, Snowden said Moscow had gone very far, in ways that are completely unnecessary, costly and corrosive to individual and collective rights in monitoring citizens online.
He also described the leak last month of top-secret National Security Agency espionage tools as an implicit threat to the US government, potentially by Russia.
Snowden’s attack on his Russian hosts comes as the Oliver Stone film Snowden – based on the whistleblower’s leaking of the NSA’s electronic spying programmes – has opened to generally poor reviews. The Guardian’s critic Benjamin Lee described the film as misjudged and outdated. Virtually every directorial choice is aimed at making Snowden’s life seem more conventional and it results in the majority of scenes feeling like a lifeless construct, he wrote.
Snowden, a former CIA contractor, has been living in a secret location in Russia since he fled the US, via Hong Kong, in 2013 carrying thousands of classified documents that revealed the widespread nature of the NSA’s surveillance. The 33-year-old, who is considered a traitor by many Americans, faces charges of espionage and theft of government property, for which he could serve up to 30 years in prison.
However, his lawyers say that they hope to secure a presidential pardon before Barack Obama leaves office in January, and commentators have noted that Snowden has criticised his Russian hosts several times in the buildup to his attempt to gain a pardon. In July, it was reported that Snowden had posted a string of tweets in which he described recent Russian legislation, which criminalises support for terrorism on the internet, as unworkable.
Mass surveillance doesn’t work. This bill will take money and liberty from every Russian without improving safety. It should not be signed, he tweeted. Duma member says most representatives were against Big Brother law, but voted ‘yes’ out of fear.
On Saturday, Snowden said: I can’t fix the human rights situation in Russia, and realistically my priority is to fix my own country first, because that’s the one to which I owe the greatest loyalty. But though the chances are it will make no difference, maybe it’ll help.
He said the world was experiencing an unprecedented crisis in computer security. But until we solve the fundamental problem, which is that our policy incentivises offence to a great degree than defence, hacks will continue unpredictably and they will have increasingly larger effects and impacts.
His comments came as the actor Zachary Quinto called for Snowden to be allowed to return to the US without facing charges. The Star Trek actor, who plays the journalist Glenn Greenwald in the Stone biopic, said Snowden had acted with courage and it was absurd to brand him a treasonist while he remained in exile in Russia.
Speaking at the film’s premiere in Toronto, Quinto – known for his role as Spock in the rebooted Star Trek films – told the Press Association: I do think [Snowden] should be able to come back [to the US]. I think it’s a very complicated issue in terms of how that would happen.
The idea of him being charged under the Espionage Act or branded as a treasonist is absurd. I think he is someone of great integrity and great courage. I think what he did is underestimated now, in a lot of ways, but I think will be looked back on with the magnitude it deserves.
Hopefully he can enjoy some freedoms again in his life. He deserves that in my opinion.
News Source TheGuardianNews