Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden Interview At LiveLeak: On Clapper Lying to Congress and the Possibility of Clemency


Snowden Obama
Der Spiegel

German TV interviewed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the video of the 30 minute interview is now available at LiveLeak. Not surprisingly, a good bit of the interview focused on NSA spying alliances, activities and capabilities in Europe.

The German reporter did, however, ask if Snowden was worried about threats to his life. Given the BuzzFeed report in which anonymous government functionaries asserted that they would be happy to kill him, Snowden sensibly replied yes, but that he still slept well at night.

Below are some selected quotations from the interview. For example, the interviewer asked Snowden if there was a specific "breaking point" at which he decided to go public with his revelations?

Snowden: The breaking point is seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress – there is no saving an intelligence community that believes that it can lie to the public and to legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions. Seeing that really meant for me there was no going back. Beyond that, it was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this. The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name.

The interviewer mentioned that the New York Times had urged clemency for Snowden and that President Obama had ruled that out. The interviewer then cited the president as noting that Snowden had been charged with three felonies and then declared: "If you, Edward Snowden, believe in what you did, you should come back to America and appear before the court with your lawyer and make your case."

In the interview, Snowden replied:

It's interesting because he mentions three felonies. What he doesn't say is that the crimes that he's charged me with are crimes that don't allow me to make my case; they don't allow me to defend myself in an open court to the public and convince a jury that what I did was to their benefit. The Espionage Act … was never intended to prosecute journalistic sources, people who are informing the newspapers about information that is in the public interest. It was intended for people who are selling documents in secret to foreign governments, who are bombing bridges, who are sabotaging communications, not for people who are serving the public good. So it's, I would say illustrative, that the president would choose to say that someone should face the music when he knows that the music is a show trial.

For more background, see my blogpost, "Should Snowden Have Run Away?" and my articles, "Thank You Edward Snowden," and "President Obama: Pardon Edward Snowden."

H/T David Ford.