Saturday, 23 November 2013

Hero or Criminal?

Hero, traitor, whistle blower, criminal- Edward Snowden has been called all kinds of things in past few months. The opinion about him varies based on which side of the rope you're pulling for.

Those deeming Snowden as a traitor of the state, criminal of the world, are partially right. Of course, he did share classified information with the entire globe exposing the world’s largest and most powerful intelligence institution; and yes of course America does have a law that would put this guy behind bars for the rest of his life. We all know how the U.S. feels about Snowden. But the other half, seeing Snowden as a hero and champion, is the half grateful for the bravery of the man, revelation of the truth, and final halt to all the lies constantly being thrown at our faces. And sure, truth is not convenient for everyone.

What I question every time when something controversial emerges about America is who does the U.S. think they are? The great global power, Xavier of the world, and invincible leader? I don’t think so. I think it is unacceptable that the U.S., even after all the exposure of its surveillance practices, still feels it is their right to take the lead, tell other countries what to do and not do in regards to Snowden.

I feel for this guy, I think he showed great courage standing up against his own government, the government that refuses to critically look at its actions and rather constantly points the finger at other nations thinking their way is superior. Snowden should receive some kind of reward, risking his freedom and maybe life by wanting to let the rest of the world know what they have the right know about. And for me, the U.S. and its arrogant officials are the ones who should stand trial and be held accountable to their citizens and the international community.

How do you feel about the U.S. wanting to prosecute Snowden and trying to get other nations to hand him over and refuse him refuge? Do you think this is fair for Snowden after he simply gave people the opportunity to debate over their own privacy and ask questions about things that matter and have the right to be involved in?


  1. Interesting. The same discussion/argument could be used in the case of the wikileaks founder Julian Assange. In both cases, the laws were on the side of the government and in that case they were criminals, as you have said. It is a tricky situation. The decision has to be made whether the withholding of information by governments is in the public interest, say, to protect people (say in the case of exact details of where a head of state may be travelling) or to cover up incompetencies or downright corruption (eg: the US Watergate scandal). I do not know the full details of the Snowden case, but I think he was exposing a case of the NSA (hence the US government) snooping on people for no legitimate reason. Really, people should be aware of all cases of data being collected about them, and I expect that the US privacy laws would say the same. So, if Snowden is prosecuted, perhaps so should the NSA.

    Referring back to the mention of Wikileaks, I believe they took it too far by publishing content of private communications between two parties, for example exposing some derogatory comment one head of state made to another about another country. This is clearly taking things too far. I may as well go to my next door neighbours letterbox, open one of their letters and declare to the world my neighbour wrote to their parents that they hate their neighbour - not me surely ;-). Personal communication must remain personal. So too should personal data. That is my opinion.

  2. Thank you for your insight Michael, you certainly have a great point there. We also agree that, to some extent, this case can be compared to wikileak's Julian Assange; the entire wikileaks story including its founder gained an ample amount of attention due to its controversy.

    Furthermore, we would support your proposition of potentially prosecuting the NSA if Edward Snowden would have to stand trial. Of course, he did breach the US national law and thus technically should be subject to prosecution. However, you are also totally right in pointing out citizen's rights to privacy; it is as you say a decision has to be made whether or not the secrecy of NSA practices are in the best interest of society. We would certainly contest the validity of their operations and the supposedly resulting protection from terrorism for the global community. In fact, it could be argued that such extensive surveillance, especially now after the leaks, are counterproductive in the process of fighting terrorism.

    What do you think?