Edward Snowden To Appear At New Hampshire Convention: NSA Whistleblower To Be Keynote Speaker Via Video Link

Aaron Homer

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who exposed the government's bulk phone data collection and other surveillance practices, will be the keynote speaker at a New Hampshire convention of libertarians, The Valley News reports.

Snowden will speak to the New Hampshire Liberty Forum via a video conference from Russia, where he's been granted political asylum while he faces federal charges here in the United States. The New Hampshire Liberty Forum is an annual conference held in Manchester, New Hampshire (population: 109,000). The 2016 Liberty Forum will take place February 18-21.

— Martin Ekdahl (@martinekdahl) December 15, 2015

— MyInforms USA (@Myinforms_EN) December 6, 2015

"The standing joke is, 'I could tell you but I'd have to kill you.'"

Edward Snowden became a household name in June 2013, when the self-described "computer wizard," at the time working for National Surveillance Agency (NSA) subcontractor Booz Hamilton, illegally copied and then released tens of thousands of pages of classified information to journalist Glenn Greenwald, who then released them to the public.

Snowden's files revealed surveillance systems within both the United States (via the NSA) and Europe (via the British government's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)) that, among other activities, collected bulk so-called "metadata" on Americans' telephone communications records, as well as some of their Internet activities. Those data collection programs were carried out without warrants, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

After releasing his files, Snowden was charged with espionage, theft of government property, and similar charges, He fled the country, eventually allegedly making his way to Moscow, where he was granted asylum and where he remains to this day.

In a December 2013 Washington Post interview, Snowden explained his motivation for releasing the files.

"For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished. I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed."
"For me, it is literally – not figuratively – literally gut-wrenching to see this happen because of the huge, grave damage it does to our intelligence capabilities."
"He's a really insightful and brilliant man, so I think from our perspective we're really excited to give him a platform."

[Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images]