Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who turned into a whistleblower and reportedly stole 1.7 million classified documents, will host a live Q&A tomorrow at 12 p.m. Pacific Time in order to offer his opinion regarding U.S. President Obama’s National Security Agency (NSA) reforms.
Barack Obama gave a speech last week in which he emphasized the changes that will be implemented with regard to the NSA and mentioned that Snowden’s leaks will affect the U.S. for years to come. During his speech, Obama also directly criticized Snowden’s “unauthorized disclosures,” but at the same time admitted that the public debate will probably make the country stronger. However, he refused to talk about Snowden’s reasons for leaking NSA information given the fact that the former NSA contractor’s investigation is ongoing.
Tomorrow, Snowden will be given the chance to go head to head with Obama’s speech and defend himself against the attacks coming from numerous U.S. officials. The former NSA contractor is now charged with theft and espionage for leaking classified documents to the Washington Post and U.K.’s Guardian newspaper last year. Snowden still stands by his decision to disclose the documents, which revealed NSA’s collection of telephone and Internet records, saying that he “knew what he was getting into.” In an interview with The New Yorker he confesses the fact that he was only trying to help the country.
Snowden specified on different occasions that Russia was not the place of asylum he wanted and that his final stop should have been Havana. He told reporters that he was transiting through Russia when the State Department decided to keep him in its custody and cancelled his passport. He vehemently told the press several times that he is not a Russian spy and the fact that he stayed 40 days in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport until he was granted asylum proves his point.
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia stood by Snowden’s declaration and denied any connection between the former NSA contractor and his country. “I’ll tell you in semiprofessional language: we aren’t working with him and haven’t worked with him in investigative term,” Putin said.
Tomorrow will be Snowden’s first live Q&A since June 2013 in which he will be offered the chance to reply to Obama’s speech and clarify some of the questions that remained unanswered. Snowden already explained why he was ready to flee the moment the news broke and demonstrated that Russia was not involved in his plans. With regard to the “go pack” he had prepared, the former NSA contractor said that his job forced him to be prepared for sudden departures and that “it’s not an exotic practice for people who have lived undercover on government orders.”
Edward Snowden is currently under Russian protection after receiving threats from unidentified U.S. officials. Anatoly Kucherena, his lawyer in Moscow said that Snowden is asking the local government for protection. At the same time Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for Obama’s NSA mentioned in an e-mail that Snowden must “return to the U.S. to face charges.”
Following Obama’s speech with regard to Snowden’s actions and NSA’s reform, the latter is given the chance to go head to go with the U.S. president’s statements. An hour-long live Q&A will take place tomorrow, January 23 at 12 p.m. Pacific Time.
By Gabriela Motroc