It is laughable for Edward Snowden to pose as a freedom fighter

Published by The Times (9th June, 2023)

Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor, is marking the tenth anniversary of his revelations about electronic surveillance systems by warning again about the dangers of intrusive technology. He insists he has “no regrets” over his huge leak of top-secret intelligence data from American and British spy agencies.

His actions sparked important debates over surveillance and technology, although undoubtedly he also aided forces hostile to the West and its democratic values. But to pose now as some kind of righteous freedom fighter is risible when he lives as a Russian citizen, a pawn of the Kremlin who has even participated in a propaganda stunt with Vladimir Putin on state-controlled television.

The narcissistic whistleblower argues that he is trapped in a land he did not choose. And he says, rightly, that he has condemned Putin’s violation of human rights in the past. Scroll through his social media, however, and you are much more likely to see promotion of pro-Kremlin positions such as backing tendentious claims that the US blew up the Nord Stream gas pipeline or denouncing pro-democracy protests in places such as Georgia and Ukraine as the “CIA colour revolutions”.

The 8,000 tweets for his 5.7 million followers seem to focus on attacking American or British institutions rather than the brutally repressive regime in Russia or the sinister surveillance state developed by its ally China. Turn to his Substack jottings and the most recent post starts by making Nazi allusions about a speech by President Biden that condemned forces of “fear, division and darkness”.

Snowden claims to admire speaking truth to power. Yet his sanctimony is exposed by the thunderous hush over Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine and the bloodstained barbarism of his fascistic protector — who claims, absurdly, to be defending his nation against Nazis.

Like every Putin patsy, Snowden ridiculed last year’s western intelligence warnings of imminent invasion, even as Russian tanks and troops built up on the borders. He condemned a supposed lack of evidence “for truly spectacular claims”, along with the “grotesque” media “pushing for war” just days before the full-scale onslaught, adding that there was no point saying Russia should not invade Ukraine since “everybody agrees with it”.

After the invasion, Snowden reduced his public interventions. He insisted that “sharing my thoughts on the matter did more harm than good”, so “found the humility” to stay quiet. When later pressed, he said pompously that his comments would not be covered “appropriately” or “in context”. For a man who claims to be a crusader for freedom and truth, this silence speaks volumes.

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