Edward Snowden, British writers on liberty


This video is called Edward Snowden | Chelsea Manning receives Sam Adams Award.

It says about itself:

Edward Snowden addresses the Oxford Union as part of the Sam Adams awards ceremony on 19th February 2014.

ABOUT EDWARD SNOWDEN: Edward Joseph Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American computer specialist, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. He came to international attention when he disclosed a large number of classified NSA documents to several media outlets. The leaked documents revealed operational details of a global surveillance apparatus run by the NSA and other members of the Five Eyes alliance, along with numerous commercial and international partners.

Snowden is considered a fugitive by American authorities who in June 2013 charged him with espionage and theft of government property. In early 2014, numerous media outlets and politicians issued calls for leniency in the form ofclemency, amnesty or pardon, while others called for him to be imprisoned or killed. He lives in an undisclosed location in Russia and, according to German politician Hans-Christian Ströbele, continues to seek permanent asylum “in a ‘democratic’ country” such as Germany or France.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

On Liberty: Edward Snowden and top writers on what freedom means to them

As the campaining group turns 80, Shami Chakrabarti, Ian McEwan, Tom Stoppard, Julian Barnes and others reflect on liberty

Friday 21 February 2014 14.01 GMT

Shami Chakrabarti

Writers have always been a big part of Liberty. Since our very beginnings, as the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) in 1934, they’ve played a key role in our battle to protect civil liberties and promote human rights in Britain. HG Wells, Vera Brittain, EM Forster, AA Milne, George Orwell and Aldous Huxley are just a few of the authors who supported Liberty in the early years – and perhaps it’s not surprising that those who write feel a special affinity with Liberty’s values and ideals. Now on Monday we will celebrate 80 years of “the fight that is never done”.

Orwell’s observations on the power of language “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable” is something that Liberty has witnessed throughout its history – “extraordinary rendition” wasn’t sweet singing, but a chilling euphemism for kidnap and torture during the “war on terror”. “Waterboarding” was never a seaside sport. Governments have twisted words to sanitise abomination and obscure outrage. But literature can sometimes change minds and behaviour more convincingly than the most forceful examples of political polemic or even legislation.

Shami Chakrabarti is director of Liberty.

Edward Snowden

Today, an ordinary person can’t pick up the phone, email a friend or order a book without comprehensive records of their activities being created, archived, and analysed by people with the authority to put you in jail or worse. I know: I sat at that desk. I typed in the names.

When we know we’re being watched, we impose restraints on our behaviour – even clearly innocent activities – just as surely as if we were ordered to do so. The mass surveillance systems of today, systems that pre-emptively automate the indiscriminate seizure of private records, constitute a sort of surveillance time-machine – a machine that simply cannot operate without violating our liberty on the broadest scale. And it permits governments to go back and scrutinise every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever spoken to, and derive suspicion from an innocent life. Even a well-intentioned mistake can turn a life upside down.

To preserve our free societies, we have to defend not just against distant enemies, but against dangerous policies at home. If we allow scarce resources to be squandered on surveillance programmes that violate the very rights they purport to defend, we haven’t protected our liberty at all: we have paid to lose it.

Edward Snowden is a former NSA contractor and whistleblower.

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10 thoughts on “Edward Snowden, British writers on liberty

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