Edward Snowden reportedly mulling return to US, but only if the law changes

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

Former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden says a return to the US would be the best possible solution for him and the country as a whole, but getting to that point won’t be easy.

In an online Q&A hosted by the Courage Foundation, which is campaigning for Snowden’s freedom, Snowden says that the only thing keeping him from returning to the US is a 100-year-old law.

The law, he says, “was never intended to be used against people working in the public interest, and forbids a public interest defense”. “This is especially frustrating, because it means there’s no chance to have a fair trial, and no way I can come home and make my case to a jury”.

Snowden is however hopeful that the US congress will reform the Whistleblower Protection Act so that he can get a fair trial.

If anyone found that answer surprising, they probably would’ve found Snowden’s thoughts on spying’s role in the world even more surprising.

“Not all spying is bad,” he says. “The biggest problem we face right now is the new technique of indiscriminate mass surveillance, where governments are seizing billions and billions and billions of innocents’ communication every single day”.

According to Snowden, authorities aren’t engaging in the activities he railed against because they have to but because they can:

This [surveillance] is done not because it’s necessary — after all, these programs are unprecedented in US history, and were begun in response to a threat that kills fewer Americans every year than bathtub falls and police officers — but because new technologies make it easy and cheap.

What it boils down to, he says, is that “a person should be able to dial a number, make a purchase, send an SMS, write an email, or visit a website without having to think about what it’s going to look like on their permanent record”.

Given America’s role in this kind of surveillance, it’s hardly surprising that Snowden thinks that it should lead the way in curbing it:

This is a global problem, and America needs to take the lead in fixing it. If our government decides our Constitution’s 4th Amendment prohibition against unreasonable seizures no longer applies simply because that’s a more efficient means of snooping, we’re setting a precedent that immunizes the government of every two-bit dictator to perform the same kind of indiscriminate, dragnet surveillance of entire populations that the NSA is doing.

Among Snowden’s other answers was rubbishing of reports that he’d stolen the passwords of his co-workers and an attempt to reassure people that proper encryption was still a viable way of keeping their communication safe.



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