'In Britain there's an authoritarian trend': 5 things we learned from Edward Snowden's 'Lunch with the FT'

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Saturday 10 September 2016 10:50
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Responsible for one of the biggest government data leaks in history, Edward Snowden lives a dual life - both revered as a whistleblowing hero and hated as a "traitor" to his country.

Now living in exile in Russia, Snowden recently sat down with Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian where the NSA leaks were first published in 2013, for a 'Lunch with the FT' interview in the Financial Times.

Here are a few things we learned:

1. Snowden thinks there is an 'authoritarian trend' in the UK

While he thinks the US government's position on mass surveillance has been reshaped since his leak, he notes that things have got worse elsewhere in the world.

The laws have gotten worse in some countries. France has gone very far, so too, of course, countries like Russia, China.

In Britain there's an authoritarian trend.

2. His conscience is still clear

Asked whether he ever lost sleep over the idea that terrorist organisations like Isis had gained an advantage from his revelations, he was quite clear:

Would [the leaks being suppressed] have stopped any of the terrorist attacks that have occurred in the last three years? There’s no public evidence that that’s the case. In fact, there’s no classified evidence that that’s the case, or else we’d be reading it in the newspapers.

3. He believes the world is in a computer security crisis 'the likes of which we've never seen before'

Snowden believes there should be "some form of liability for negligence in software architecture" like that which exists in the food industry.

4. He acknowledges his hosts aren't perfect

While explaining that his Russian still isn't fluent, because "as crazy as it sounds, I still plan to leave", Snowden reveals that his friends tell him to "shut up" over his criticisms of his host country.

I can't fix the human rights situation in Russia, and realistically my priority is to fix my own country first because that's the one to which I owe the greatest loyalty.

5. He's really not looking forward to the next president

Pressed on whether he's more optimistic about his own future under a presidency of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Snowden can't really say. What he does say is that the future for America seems bleak either way:

I think we should have better choices. We're a country of 330m people and we seem to be being asked to make a choice between individuals whose lives are defined by scandal.

I simply think we should be capable of more.

Read the full interview here

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