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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: https://couragefound.org/donate
Further information: https://couragefound.org

Edward Snowden wins 2014 Ordfront Democracy Prize

Awarded on 15 November 2014

Sweden’s civic association Ordfront has awarded Edward Snowden its annual Democracy prize (Ordfronts Demokratipris).  Edward Snowden spoke by video link at the awards ceremony in Umeå alongside Glenn Greenwald, Brian Palmer of Uppsala University and Anna Wigenmark of the Ordfront board.

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Could Switzerland grant Edward Snowden safe passage?

Switzerland’s Attorney General has raised the possibility that Edward Snowden could testify about NSA surveillance in Switzerland – and apply for asylum there – without fear of onward extradition to the United States.

The written legal opinion, seen by Swiss newspapers le Matin Dimanche and Sonntags Zeitung, states there is no legal impediment to Mr Snowden being granted Swiss asylum but leaves open the possibility of “higher state obligations” taking priority. While those “higher state obligations” are left undefined, this is – on the face of it – a rather more positive response than inquiries seeking Mr Snowden’s participation in person have received elsewhere.

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Help Edward Snowden to safety

Truthtellers should be protected, not persecuted or prosecuted. Edward Snowden’s safety lies in the hands of governments who have the power to make the offers of asylum he needs – but political leaders will not act unless they feel the popular pressure to do so. Here’s how we can show governments around the world that their citizens want a safe haven for Edward Snowden.

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EU Inquiry into Electronic Mass Surveillance draws its conclusions

For the past five months the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) has been conducting an investigation into electronic mass surveillance of, and conducted by, EU member states. This inquiry, prompted directly by Edward Snowden’s revelations, held the first of its fifteen hearings on 5 September 2013 and is now making amendments to the draft report prepared by Inquiry rapporteur, MEP Claude Moraes.

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Edward Snowden joins Freedom of the Press Foundation board

Originally posted 14/1/2014 by Freedom of the Press Foundation.

“It is tremendously humbling to be called to serve the cause of our free press, and it is the honor of a lifetime to do so alongside extraordinary Americans like Daniel Ellsberg on FPF’s Board of Directors. The unconstitutional gathering of the communications records of everyone in America threatens our most basic rights, and the public should have a say in whether or not that continues. Thanks to the work of our free press, today we do, and if the NSA won’t answer to Congress, they’ll have to answer to the newspapers, and ultimately, the people.

“Journalism isn’t possible unless reporters and their sources can safely communicate and where laws can’t protect that, technology can. This is a hard problem, but not an unsolvable one, and I look forward to using my experience to help find a solution.”

Snowden statement to Foreign Policy Magazine on his selection as a Global Thinker

Originally published 11/12/2013 in Foreign Policy

It’s an honor to address you tonight. I apologize for being unable to attend in person, but I’ve been having a bit of passport trouble. Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras also regrettably could not accept their invitations. As it turns out, revealing matters of “legitimate concern” nowadays puts you on the list for more than “Global Thinker” awards.

2013 has been an important year for civil society. As we look back on the events of the past year and their implications for the state of surveillance within the United States and around the world, I suspect we will remember this year less for the changes in policies that are sure to come, than for changing our minds. In a single year, people from Indonesia to Indianapolis have come to realize that dragnet surveillance is not a mark of progress, but a problem to be solved.

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