Monday, October 07, 2013

Snowden statement to EU LIBE Committee

Edward Snowden's statement to the EU Parliament LIBE Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee on Monday, 30 September, 2013:
"I thank the European Parliament and the LIBE Committee for taking up the challenge of mass surveillance. The surveillance of whole populations, rather than individuals, threatens to be the greatest human rights challenge of our time. The success of economies in developed nations relies increasingly on their creative output, and if that success is to continue, we must remember that creativity is the product of curiosity, which in turn is the product of privacy.
A culture of secrecy has denied our societies the opportunity to determine the appropriate balance between the human right of privacy and the governmental interest in investigation. These are not decisions that should be made for a people, but only by the people after full, informed, and fearless debate. Yet public debate is not possible without public knowledge, and in my country, the cost for one in my position of returning public knowledge to public hands has been persecution and exile. If we are to enjoy such debates in the future, we cannot rely upon individual sacrifice. We must create better channels for people of conscience to inform not only trusted agents of government, but independent representatives of the public outside of government.
When I began my work, it was with the sole intention of making possible the debate we see occurring here in this body and in many other bodies around the world. Today we see legislative bodies forming new committees, calling for investigations, and proposing new solutions for modern problems. We see emboldened courts that are no longer afraid to consider critical questions of national security. We see brave executives remembering that if a 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. The work of a generation is beginning here, with your hearings, and you have the full measure of my gratitude and support."
The statement was read on Snowden's behalf by Jesselyn Radack, the Government Accountability Project's Director of Security and Human Rights and a former ethics adviser to the United States Department of Justice. GAP was an early supporter of Edward Snowden following his revelations of secret US and UK government mass surveillance programs.

Jesselyn Radack's full statement to the LIBE committee is also available on YouTube.

It's powerful stuff and well worth setting aside 15 minutes to pay attention to, from the charge that the Bush administration crossed the rubicon with an attack on whistleblowers, in particular Tom Drake, which amounted to a criminalization of the truth, to the fact that in less than a year the Obama administration indicted more people under the Espionage Act than all previous US presidents combined. She respectfully requests that the committee strengthen laws to protect whistleblowers, laws to protect privacy and laws to protect the rights of publishers in the EU to disseminate revelations like those Snowden has exposed without fear of criminal penalty.

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