Former NSA agent, Edward Snowden, has called on an EU Parliament committee to provide protection for whistleblowers and “create better channels” for them to inform. The committee is currently holding an inquiry into the 'Prism scandal'.
The inquiry involves a series of special hearings looking at
specific aspects. On September 30 it heard evidence from the
whistleblowers, including the UK's Annie Machon, who revealed an
MI6 plot to assassinate Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, in
February 1996 – and Edward Snowden. However, the latter was not
able to attend in person.
As US fugitive NSA-leaker, Snowden submitted testimony to the
European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE), saying
“the surveillance of whole populations rather than individuals
threatens to be the greatest human rights challenge of our
“I thank the European parliament and the LIBE committee for
taking up the challenge of mass surveillance,” Snowden wrote
in a statement read by Jesselyn Radack of the Government
Accountability Project before the European Parliament’s
In “returning public knowledge to public hands” Snowden
has made a plea not to rely on “individual sacrifice”,
which in his case resulted in “persecution and exile.”
“We must create better channels for people of conscience to
inform not only trusted agents of government but independent
representatives of the public outside government,” Snowden,
who now lives in Moscow, wrote.
Snowden blamed “a culture of secrecy” for removing from
society “the opportunity to determine the appropriate balance
between the fundamental right of privacy” and
“governmental interest in investigation.” He says that
such decisions should be made by people, only “after full,
informed and fearless debate.”
Snowden explained his reasons in the statement for leaking
documents, saying he did it “with the sole intention of making
possible” a debate about changes in governments' surveillance
“We see emboldened courts that are no longer afraid to
consider critical questions of national security,” he writes.
“We see brave executives remembering that if the public is
prevented from knowing how they are being governed, the necessary
result is that they are no longer self-governing. And we see the
public reclaiming an equal seat at the table of government.”
Meanwhile, Edward Snowden has been nominated for this year’s
Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Snowden is wanted in the US on espionage charges, after leaking
secret documents revealing the US surveillance program PRISM used
to gather private data. In August, he was granted temporary
asylum in Russia, where he currently resides.