WASHINGTON — Last year, Edward Snowden fled the United States with more than a million classified government documents. After coming forward with his findings of vast amounts of government abuse on the privacy of millions of Americans, Snowden — who is still living in Moscow — is wanted for a plethora of espionage charges in his home country.
Snowden’s claims, which continue to surface, have caused him to be in the center of widespread controversy and confusion. While some deem him a psychopathic liar (he is currently under asylum in Russia, though he feels “fortunate” of this fate as opposed to the unfair trial he would receive in America), others — including the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay — have deemed him, for lack of a better word, a hero.
“Those who disclose human rights violations should be protected,” Pillay said. “We need them.”
While Pillay kept quiet on his opinion as to whether the Obama administration should grant Snowden a pardon, the Human Rights Chief remained adamant regarding Snowden’s bravery to reveal classified documents aimed at exposing government secrets at the expense of its citizens’ rights.
Among Snowden’s claims, which mostly focus on surveillance methods used by the U.S. government, are serious accusations of personal privacy breaches, including the government’s ability to access nude photos, text messages and other personal information.
“You’ve got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old,” said Snowden in a recent seven-hour interview with The Guardian. “They’ve suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records.”
In terms of sexually compromising photos, Snowden kept fashion and remained blunt: “They turn around and show their co-worker.”
This kind of information is almost impossible for the National Security Agency to thoroughly dispute or discredit, as breaches are almost completely left up to the “maturity level” of the employee(s) at question. Still, this government control is what Snowden is fighting for in the first place.
Snowden does not regret his actions, despite being denied a fair trial in the U.S. and kept under heavy surveillance in Russia.
“Regardless of what happens, if I end up in chains in Guantanamo, I can live with that,” Snowden said.
While the definition of hero versus felon may be blurred in this case, Snowden’s accusations — if anything — have certainly brought attention and trepidation as to whether the U.S. government is actually serving to its citizens’ best interests.
– Nick Magnanti