In a new interview with Glenn Greenwald, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden discussed press freedom and online censorship.
They also talked about how the spirit of the internet has changed since the early days where freedom of speech was a core principle. Now it is run by corporations and heavily regulated by governments, which appears to have drastically changed the culture online.
Snowden pointed out that journalists who don’t have viewpoints that fit in with the mainstream are silenced in a variety of different ways.
“What we see is an increasing tendency to silence journalists who say things that are in the minority. You see threats against journalism, particularly female journalists, online, social media, just because people don’t like what’s being reported. They don’t like the facts that are being brought to them,” Snowden said.
“Then there’s this whole other step, which is, what is the government doing against it? And in nowhere is this more clear, I think, than the war on whistleblowers,” he added.
Snowden said that the war on whistleblowers began to ramp up under former President George W. Bush, and has continued to grow under every president since, regardless of their campaign promises.
“This is not a partisan issue, these people are backers of Obama, and we all know about the things that have happened under the Trump administration. But when you look at this as a trend, as a dynamic, what you see is the criminalization of journalism,” he said.
Snowden also discussed the case of Julian Assange of Wikileaks as an example of the war on whistleblowers.
“Trying to silence the publication of facts, which are valuable and important to the public, to the continuation of democracy, but uncomfortable to government, when they understand that that is something that must be accepted, that is what defines a democracy, rather than going, ‘No, we need to shut these people up; we’re going to throw them in a hole, we’re going to ruin their life, whatever. We’re going to de-platform them,’ or whatever the new tactic is, this is going to continue to be a problem, and the freedom of our press is going to continue to decline,” Snowden said.
Snowden pointed out that the absolute worst people are held up as examples of why censorship is needed, which justifies widespread censorship against activists and journalists.
Snowden is still facing criminal charges under the Espionage Act. He is currently living in exile in Russia, where he got stuck and remained while attempting to evade US authorities after the now-infamous leak.
Last year, Snowden published an eye-opening memoir about his time in the intelligence community and his decision to tell the world about the massive surveillance state that had been created by the United States government. The book, called “Permanent Record,” quickly rose to the top of the charts as soon as it was released, but as expected, the United States government was not very happy that it was being published.
On the day that the book was released, the US government filed a lawsuit against Snowden, claiming that he violated non-disclosure agreements that he signed with both the CIA and NSA when he was employed with the agencies. Snowden was still able to release the book, but the government has claimed all of his earnings.
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