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Statement by Edward Snowden to human rights groups at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport (from Wikileaks)
Statement by Edward Snowden to human rights groups at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport
Friday July 12, 15:00 UTC
Edward Joseph Snowden delivered a statement to human rights organizations and individuals at Sheremetyevo airport at 5pm Moscow time today, Friday 12th July. The meeting lasted 45 minutes. The human rights organizations included Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and were given the opportunity afterwards to ask Mr Snowden questions. The Human Rights Watch representative used this opportunity to tell Mr Snowden that on her way to the airport she had received a call from the US Ambassador to Russia, who asked her to relay to Mr Snowden that the US Government does not categorise Mr Snowden as a whistleblower and that he has broken United States law. This further proves the United States Government’s persecution of Mr Snowden and therefore that his right to seek and accept asylum should be upheld. Seated to the left of Mr. Snowden was Sarah Harrison, a legal advisor in this matter from WikiLeaks and to Mr. Snowden’s right, a translator.
Transcript of Edward Joseph Snowden statement, given at 5pm Moscow time on Friday 12th July 2013. (Transcript corrected to delivery)
Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.
It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.
Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.
I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.
This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.
If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.
For further information, see:
In the autumn of 2012, French Twitter erupted in a battle of racist jokes and insults. Our judicial system, in its response, has shown itself incompetent, irrelevant, and, moreover, racist. This is why you should be alarmed:
The Courts Are Racist
The surge in racist tweets arrived around October 14th, and was characterized by the spike in popularity of certain hashtags, which allow for easy searching and following of trending topics. The following were among the most prominent: #unbonjuif, #unbonmusulman, #simonfilsestgay, #simafillerameneunnoir, and #prenomdepute, attacking Jews, Muslims, Homosexuals, Blacks, and Women respectively, and they were accompanied by off-color jokes, images, or other offensive content. A number of groups reacted, among them the Union of French Jewish students (UEJF), the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples (MRAP), SOS Racisme, and the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), and they brought a lawsuit to identify the authors of tweets using the #unbonjuif, #simonfilsestgay, and #simafillerameneunnoir hashtags.
On January 24th, 2013, Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud rendered her decision: the UEJF’s demand for the identities of the authors of the #unbonjuif tweets was “legitimate,” but the MRAP’s demand concerning the other two hashtags was not, as the group “wasn’t in a position to act against homophobia” and that the anti-Black tweets weren’t “determined” enough. When our Courts decide to protect groups from hate speech, they do so unevenly and unfairly.
The Courts Have Forgotten Their Jurisdiction
Twitter erased the offending Tweets in January, though this didn’t satisfy the UEJF or the other groups. Sending their demand all the way to California, they insisted that French law requires Twitter to hand over the names of the account owners. Twitter, which runs its service entirely out of California, responded that, as an American company operating in America, they’ll wait for an American court order. The UEJF is now suing Twitter, as well as its CEO Dick Costolo, in a French court for 38.5 million euros, for its refusal to provide IP addresses.
Should a man in his own country who has done nothing but ignore the racist noise of a foreign tribunal be tried in a foreign Court? If a court in North Korea, Sudan, or America subpoenaed us in France, are we obligated to comply?
In April, 2011, The Mariner broke British law by revealing the name of a recipient of their Super-Injunction, all while never leaving France. Should France have sold us out to Britain’s self-purported “universal jurisdiction?” Of course not. Is it fun to break English law? Why, yes.
Hate Speech Cannot Be Defined
What’s funny for one is hurtful to another. So who decides what crosses the line and should be punished? Right now, it’s probably some frustrated pencil-pusher in a windowless office in some high-rise in a banlieu of Paris. Now does he have his own set of values and prejudices? Of course – we all do. Will his judgment vary from one day to another? Obviously. Is he morally superior to you or me? Probably not. So why does he get to choose what I can say, see, hear, and read? He’s all the more likely to defend his own ideology and the power structure he’s a part of, and all the less likely to welcome criticism of it. Sir, you suck!
It’s easy to say that some speech should be criminalized. The problem is that everyone wants to be the one who decides what is acceptable and what is not. Limiting speech only serves to put some people’s interests above others.
I found #unbonamericain on Twitter. It hurt a little, but I’m used to it by now. Rather than call on the state to imprison the author of the Tweet, I try to educate. As blogger Cyrus Farivar put it: “Undesirable speech should be countered with more speech, not censorship.” If I could sue every time I felt hurt or that my human dignity was affronted, I could retire with a single copy of La Dépêche.
France Already Has a Bad Reputation for Internet Surveillance
Just last year, Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a law that would make READING hate-speech a criminal offense. Essentially, if you visited the wrong site more than once, you would have broken the law, never mind if your intentions were scholarly or journalistic. Reporters Without Boarders (RWB) journalist Lucie Morillon reminds us that to technically accomplish this, the French government would have to monitor ALL INTERNET TRAFFIC. RWB, itself a French organization, has included France on it’s “Enemies of the Internet” list since 2011.
Remember also that with encrypted chat and email, Virtual Private Networks, the Tor Network, etc; anyone who truly wants to conceal their communications, (i.e. the real terrorists!) can do so easily.
Laws Against Hate Speech Increase Hate Speech
Following the news of their court victory, Sacha Reingewirtz, Vice-President of the UEJF, had this to say: “We’ve already tweeted the decision. And we see on Twitter that the decision has apparently triggered a new rise of anti-Semitic messages directed at our organization.” So after all that, censoring hurtful speech just incites more of it. All this just makes it worse.
So what now?
The harsh and blurry laws limiting free speech and their reckless and unfair enforcement should be moderated, repaired, or removed from the Penal Code. In an effort to preserve Fraternité, we throw Liberté and Egalité into the wind, and end up losing them all, a little like robbing Peter AND Paul to pay Mary, and then just robbing her too.
Our country should stop its expensive international witch-hunt and look toward actually protecting its citizens’ rights. Only if she treats us as free adults can we hope to treat each other as such.
Our Guide to Throwing a Killer Super Bowl Party …Mariner Style
On Sunday, over 100 million people will put aside their work, family, and values, and tune in to watch the 47th annual Super Bowl. Don’t know what a a Super Bowl is? Don’t know how to celebrate one? Don’t worry; we’ll hold your hand through this one.
First, a little background: the Super Bowl is the game that decides the champion of the National Football League (NFL) season – football here referring to American Football. The two teams, having survived various elimination matches, find themselves playing for a giant silver trophy made by Tiffany’s. (Yes ladies, THAT Tiffany’s.)
This year the two teams are the San Francisco 49ers and theBaltimore Ravens. If someone asks you who you’re rooting for, say the 49ers. Or say “the 9ers” if you really want to sound cool. Anyway, everyone knows San Francisco is cooler than Baltimore.
Ok, so the game is scheduled for Sunday, but that means the kick-off will happen at 00h30 Monday morning Mariner time. Now that alone isn’t a problem, but depending on your idea of a party you might want to call your boss or email your teachers and tell them that you won’t be able to come in Monday because you’re sick/really sick/unable to walk/have lost all conception of space and time. Try to get Tuesday off too while you’re at it.
So by now you’ve invited some friends over, and are thinking about what to eat. Granted, this is a great excuse to load up on the greasiest, saltiest grub you can find, but we could also listen to experience… One Super Bowl I had so much KFC I blacked out before half-time. Don’t let them tell you it was the Budweiser… I know what Bud does to the human body… absolutely nothing!
A classic dish is chip sand dip – try to find a good bag of tortilla chips and a jar of spicy salsa. Bean dip is easy to make – cook and mash some beans and throw in some local duck fat for our own regional Super Bowl treat. Cheese dips are common at these parties, but remember the word “cheese” starts carrying different meanings once you start crossing large bodies of water.
The very idea of Super Bowl party snacks is paradoxical: The food is both necessary and unimportant – necessary to avoid acute alcohol poisoning and unnecessary because often it merely distracts from the real purpose of the celebration, which depending on the person, is the game, the commercials, the half-time show, the camaraderie, the betting, or the booze.
“The party is more fun without alcohol,” they say, but if you’re going to sit me down in front of a football game and stick Beyoncé’s lip-syncing ass in there at half-time, I’d better be nice and numb.
Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light are the All-American classic beers. Sure they resemble that couple in the canoe, but there are worse things to drink. If you’re a little more cosmopolitan, then Heineken and Corona are classics. If you want to get ghetto, The Mariner recommends Mickey’s or Olde English. If you want to drink cheap beer ironically, try to find some Pabst Blue Ribbon, and if nothing is too good for you, Miller High Life is called “the champagne of beers.”
But as you well know, it’s not always what you drink, but how you drink it. Keg stands are great for the warmer months, but here in winter we’re forced to get creative. “Edward 40 Hands” is a classic game that involves taping giant bottles of beer (generally 40 ounces, hence the “40”) to your hands. You’re not allowed to remove them until they’re empty. Large bottles are hard to find in France, but recently giant ‘Desperados’ have been arriving in stores. With 2,4L of sickly goodness strapped to your hands, you won’t care who wins the Super Bowl!