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Press statements

CITIZENFOUR wins Oscar for Best Documentary

Laura Poitras’ documentary about Edward Snowden, CITIZENFOUR, was awarded an Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on 22 February 2014.

In her acceptance speech, standing alongside Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills, Laura Poitras paid tribute to Edward Snowden:

The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don’t only expose the threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made that affect all of us are being made in secret, we lose our ability to control. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and to the many other whistleblowers. I share this with Glenn Greenwald and the other journalists that are exposing truth.

Snowden himself released a statement via the ACLU:

When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me. The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.

Courage, the organisation that runs Edward Snowden’s defence fund and this website, also released a statement, which emphasises the “dangerous gap in protections for whistleblowers” demonstrated in the film.

The Courage Foundation is delighted that CITIZENFOUR has been awarded the Oscar for the Best Documentary Feature of 2014.

The film shows that after journalists left Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, awaiting the United States’ charges and extradition request, Snowden relied on WikiLeaks to secure him asylum. As Laura Poitras’ film depicts, Snowden is now safe, living comfortably with his girlfriend in Moscow, but the film demonstrates the dangerous gap in protections for whistleblowers. WikiLeaks’ rescue – and the need it demonstrated – was the inception of Courage, devoted to providing protections, defence and safety nets for whistleblowers in the highest-risk situations, when others can’t or won’t help.

Courage, which hosts Edward Snowden’s only official defence fund, is establishing international networks ready to provide future Snowdens with logistical and legal help, in addition to assisting journalistic sources at risk before the investigation stage. But we need your help. Fighting legal battles against the most powerful governments in the world is expensive, yet essential. Courage’s Acting Director Sarah Harrison said: “Governments are ramping up their efforts to persecute those who expose the truth, and we must do the same if we’re going to keep our truth-tellers safe. Donate to Courage to ensure we are there when we are needed most.”

Donate to Courage today to contribute to the frontline of defence for future Snowdens:
Further information:

Edward Snowden introduces CITIZENFOUR in Leipzig

On Monday 27 October, Edward Snowden gave a short introduction to Laura Poitras’ documentary Citizenfour, on the occasion of its screening at Leipzig’s Dok Leipzig film festival.

As the ACLU point out in their write-up, Leipzig’s history as the place where the demonstrations that the brought the down the Berlin wall started, forms the background to Edward Snowden’s short statement.

A full transcript follows below

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Video: Edward Snowden welcomes Glasgow University students

Edward Snowden was elected as rector of Glasgow University in March this year and inaugurated on 23 April. This week, he gave the official welcome for incoming students at the 2014 Freshers’ Address by video link. In a short address that was enthusiastically received by its audience, Edward Snowden made it clear that he would be taking his duties as rector seriously,  and would be more involved in student affairs then many expected when he was elected.

A video and transcript follows below.

Thank you, thank you very much. I’m really not used to this warm a welcome! In many places I’m not welcome at all.

First off, I’d like to congratulate you all and thank you for all of the support I have received from the university. I was elected largely to send a message and there was a great expectation that I would end up being a non-working rector.

But things have developed. Over the past year, we’ve learned a lot about the world, a lot about our governments, and it’s that key principle that times are changing, and they’re not changing on their own. They’re being changed because of the efforts of individuals around the world, and the efforts of individuals at this university.

What we discovered was that governments around the world had been watching us. They’ve been keeping us under surveillance. They’ve been monitoring what we read, what we do, what our affiliations are, who our friends are, what we’re interested in and, critically, what our areas of academic research are.

But the message that you’ve tried to send and that we’re all sending together is that now we’re watching the government. We as the public are taking our seat back. Just as I, as rector of this university, will do my best to make sure that all serious issues are brought to me. That I’ll work with the student representative council to understand and champion [these issues, which] will be brought to the highest levels of attention in the university administration. And I’ll do whatever I can to ensure your interests are served, no matter what.

Now, there’s only so much I can do without being physically present at the university, but I want to expand and improve upon that day by day, month by month, year by year. I’m working very hard to get the installation of new telepresence equipment that can be used not just by myself but by other members of the university community, ideally. To make sure we have a more open, integrated, diverse and communicative society at the university, a better community then we’ve had before. And we’re aware of what’s going on, not just in our own lives, but in the community’s lives.

So again I’d like to thank you all and I’d like to say that if you have any concerns, any questions, anything I can do to help, please make sure to bring it to me personally, please make sure to bring it to the student representative council.

And remember that, no matter what, no matter what the costs are, no matter what odds you face, everybody at this university, everybody in this room, everybody in this world has the opportunity to contribute to substantive and meaningful change. You can change the world by yourself, on your own, facing even the greatest and most intimidating, most powerful organisations with the greatest funding in the world. But more importantly, what one individual can do is nothing compared to what we can all do together.

So I encourage you to remember that, no matter what, there are always friends out there. there are always organisations that are able to amplify and magnify your impact. And remember the value of cooperation.

So thank you very much and welcome to Glasgow University

Edward Snowden’s statement to the Internet Ungovernance Forum

Read to the Internet Ungovernance Forum in Istanbul, 5 September 2014

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. I apologize for not being able to speak to you by video conference. Last-minute technical problems have made that method of communication impossible.

I’d like to take this opportunity, before an audience of activists, academics and journalists in Istanbul to discuss the relationship between censorship and surveillance, which are in many ways two sides of the same coin. The Turkish people are subject to both of these technically assisted forms of state manipulation, although the former has received far more attention than the latter.

When governments censor their citizens’ access the Internet, they not only trample on basic human rights, but they also make it much easier for foreign governments to gain access to those domestic communications. For censorship equipment to be able to function, domestic traffic must flow through it. This equipment is a natural target for nation-state intelligence agencies. If they can hack into and compromise the censorship equipment, they get access to all of the communications that flow through it. It only takes one security flaw or an intentionally placed backdoor in a censorship device to transform it from a tool of domestic oppression to a trojan horse for foreign government surveillance.

In the past few years, several governments have started to openly question their reliance on foreign-made communications technology, whether 4G telephone network equipment made by Huawei, or Internet switches made by Cisco. The national security arguments against foreign-made networking technology apply equally to foreign-made censorship technology. When governments install censorship equipment at the core of their national communications networks, how can they be sure that they’re not also inviting in a foreign intelligence service?

In an ideal world, governments would respect the free speech rights of their citizens enough to not filter their Internet communications. Sadly, we do not yet live in that world. Perhaps in time, governments will realize that the serious cybersecurity and foreign-surveillance threats posed by censorship equipment outweigh whatever supposed benefits of national stability and control that they bring.

To all of those present who struggled in Gezi Park, to those who struggle at the Ungovernance Forum today, thank you for your support and your solidarity. You have my support and solidarity.

Edward Snowden speaks to the Council of Europe on improving the protection of whistleblowers

Tuesday 24 June saw Edward Snowden’s second appearance before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In April, he spoke to the assembly of Parliamentarians from 47 countries about mass surveillance. The topic of yesterdays’s session was improving protection of whistleblowers; reports on both subjects are being prepared for consideration by the Assembly before the end of the year.

Edward Snowden at the Council of Europe

Video and audio recordings of the session have been made available.

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Courage launches with a message from Edward Snowden

Courage – the organisation that runs Edward Snowden’s official defence fund and this website – held its launch event in Berlin on 11 June 2014.

Edward Snowden sent a message to the event, in which he recognised the importance of “a new and growing level of solidarity among civil liberties groups” in generating momentum against mass surveillance and for the prorection of truthtellers.

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A message from Edward Snowden, one year later

Originally published by the ACLU, 6 June 2014

It’s been one year.

Technology has been a liberating force in our lives. It allows us to create and share the experiences that make us human, effortlessly. But in secret, our very own government—one bound by the Constitution and its Bill of Rights—has reverse-engineered something beautiful into a tool of mass surveillance and oppression. The government right now can easily monitor whom you call, whom you associate with, what you read, what you buy, and where you go online and offline, and they do it to all of us, all the time.

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