Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has suggested the United States should drop its prosecution of Edward Snowden, because his revelations have served the public and launched an international debate about electronic surveillance. Earlier this year, the United States unsealed a criminal complaint against Snowden that includes multiple Espionage Act counts, each of which carries a ten-year prison sentence.
Speaking at the launch of a report into surveillance commissioned by the UN General Assembly as a direct consequence of Edward Snowden’s revelations, Pillay said that “those who disclose human rights violations should be protected, we need them.”
Edward Snowden’s many revelations have uncovered the NSA’s rampant and unconstitutional spying on innocent citizens worldwide, with impacts ranging from spurring efforts toward legal reform, to sowing rifts between corporations and the governments that force them to hand over citizens’ data, to encouraging tech companies to use more encryption and be more transparent about their practices.
“I see some of it here in the case of Snowden, because his revelations go to the core of what we are saying about the need for transparency, the need for consultation,” Pillay said. “We owe a great deal to him for revealing this kind of information.”
The UN High Commissioner’s report on The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age is just one of a number of reports and inquiries held by national governments and international organisations in the wake of the revelations. It can be read here.