Snowden attacks Russia rights curbs as 'fundamentally wrong'

Published: September 5, 2015
A giant screen displays the image of fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden as he is represented by an empty chair while being awarded the freedom of expression prize Bjornson in Molde, Norway, on September, 5, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

A giant screen displays the image of fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden as he is represented by an empty chair while being awarded the freedom of expression prize Bjornson in Molde, Norway, on September, 5, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

OSLO: Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden — who has been granted asylum by Russia — criticised the country’s crackdown on human rights and online freedom Saturday as “wrong… disappointing and frustrating”.

Snowden called Moscow’s restrictions on the web “a mistake in policy” and “fundamentally wrong” as he accepted a Norwegian freedom of expression prize by videophone from Russia.

“It’s wrong in Russia, and it would be wrong anywhere,” said Snowden, 32, who was granted asylum by the Kremlin two years ago after Washington filed a warrant for his arrest for having leaked documents that revealed the vast scale of US surveillance programmes.

Pushed on Moscow’s deteriorating human rights record, the whistleblower said the situation is “disappointing, it’s frustrating” and described restrictions on the Internet as part of a wider problem in Russia.

“I’ve been quite critical of (it) in the past and I’ll continue to be in the future, because this drive that we see in the Russian government to control more and more the internet, to control more and more what people are seeing, even parts of personal lives, deciding what is the appropriate or inappropriate way for people to express their love for one another…(is) fundamentally wrong,” he said.

Read: White House refuses to pardon Snowden, wants him to ‘come home, be judged’

Snowden said he had “never intended to go to Russia”, and that he had been transiting the country en route for Latin America when US officials cancelled his passport.

“I applied for asylum in 21 countries,” Snowden told the audience at the ceremony for the Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression’s Bjornson Prize. “They were all silent. Russia was actually one of the last countries in that sequence that I applied for.”

Despite his extraordinary situation, Snowden described his life as “normal”, even if he’d rather be living in his own country.

Read: Britain pulls spies as Moscow cracks Snowden files: reports

“Exile is exile,” he said.

And his criticism of Russian Internet restrictions and laws encroaching on freedom of speech notwithstanding, Snowden said he feels he is allowed to express himself in Russia.

“I do. And I think it’s primarily in the context of the fact that most activities happen online. I mean, when people ask me where I live, the most honest answer is on the Internet.”

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Reader Comments (42)

  • Geoffrey
    Sep 5, 2015 - 9:55PM

    Mr. Snowden had best be circumspect with his criticism of the Country which is at the moment allowing him to accept their hospitality, times & attitudes can & often do change.Recommend

  • Kathleen Culmer
    Sep 5, 2015 - 10:10PM

    The Founders of the United States of America had it right when they embedded in our Constitution protections from overgrown government that must strip away citizens’ freedoms in order to ensure its continued existence and growth. Our freedoms have lasted longer than one might expect considering how many years they have been under attack. For the freedoms we continue to enjoy, thank God and leaders who lead to serve, instead of for their own enrichment. Cruz/Trump/Carson 2016!! Recommend

  • Mike
    Sep 5, 2015 - 11:52PM

    Hold on. So the US gov. is spying globally, and Russian companies want to keep Russian data INSIDE Russia, not outside – and that’s considered totalitarian? THAT’S BULL!Recommend

  • Seedee Vee
    Sep 6, 2015 - 12:06AM

    ” . . . who was granted asylum by the Kremlin two years ago after Washington filed a warrant for his arrest for having leaked documents that revealed the vast scale of US surveillance programmes . . .”

    How can a “legitimate” news outfit GET A MAJOR FACT WRONG?

    Snowden was given asylum after the United States revoked his passport and he was stuck in Russia.Recommend

  • Brian
    Sep 6, 2015 - 12:10AM

    Why are Snowden’s opinions important?Recommend

  • Art Corvelet
    Sep 6, 2015 - 1:00AM

    His comments are odd as it would seem to give
    Pootie Poot a good excuse to let him roam the
    streets of Moscow freely.
    Where can one wager on Snowden’s Over/Under?Recommend

  • cassisanass
    Sep 6, 2015 - 1:10AM

    I remember right before the 2008 elections, Pravda, of all sources, warned us about socialism and undue bureaucracy. Pravda warned us about the direction this country is headed. If anyone can warn us about losing liberty to overbearing bureaucracy, it would be a Russian. See what Yuri Bezmanov has to say on youtube. He was former KGB he should know…Recommend

  • Sep 6, 2015 - 1:30AM

    Snowden is trying to get kicked out of Russia. Let him rot there. He made his choice, now let him live with it until he dies.Recommend

  • Sep 6, 2015 - 1:31AM

    Snowden is trying to position himself to come home or to a more comfortable situation elsewhere. Let him rot in Russia.Recommend

  • rotorhead1871
    Sep 6, 2015 - 1:48AM

    he will be dead soon…..his stupidity and big mouth knows no boundsRecommend

  • David Eidell
    Sep 6, 2015 - 2:04AM

    Mr. Snowden may well be evicted for his criticism of the new Tsar. The problem is Vladimir Puta has too many Russian supporters. Hope they do a poll someday asking the Russian on the street if they would prefer central management as was performed in the USSR. Snowden embarrassed too many people for the “interest” in his arrest to eventually subside. In short, he is one poohed-scrootch.Recommend

  • Mark
    Sep 6, 2015 - 4:26AM

    Is Mr. Snowden truly that naïve to believe that the USSR (excuse me, Russia) is a free state that values the rights of its citizens? I would not be surprised if Mr. Snowden has a nasty accident in the near future while crossing the street, walking down the avenue, going up a lift, falling down some stairs or a plethora of other ways that Putin’s renamed KGB have taken retribution on those that dare make statement critical of the utopia that is Russia.Recommend

  • James boatwright
    Sep 6, 2015 - 5:34AM

    Snowden got what he deserved. If the situation was reversed and he had ratted out Russia’s spy programs he would be a dead duck. There are tens of thousands in and out of government programs who sign up to do various jobs. Nobody holds a gun to your head to make sure you are faithful in your job performance in the U.S., not so in the friendly confines of “Mother Russia.”
    I hope he spends the rest of his life there.Recommend

  • Really
    Sep 6, 2015 - 6:28AM

    Another useful idiot has an epiphany!Recommend

  • Uncle peter
    Sep 6, 2015 - 6:53AM

    What did Edward Snowden gain by defecting to Russia? Freedom? He obviously did not think everything through when he betrayed his country. He was too ideologically blinded by his hatred of his his own country while ignoring the reality of Russian tyrrany.

    He ended up in Russia not by design as he was spurned by numerous countries. But there he went and there he shall stay.Recommend

  • Dennis
    Sep 6, 2015 - 7:06AM

    @Mike: So you pretty much didnt read the story at all… Thanks for showing up, how much is Putin paying you? Or are you that completely ignorant?Recommend

  • CppThis
    Sep 6, 2015 - 7:16AM

    @Art Corvelet: He hasn’t outlived his usefulness to Putin’s geopolitical game just yet. I give him maybe another 18 months for destabilizing US foreign policy, then he’ll win a trip to Lubyanka basement.Recommend

  • Sep 6, 2015 - 7:26AM

    If Edward Snowden doesn’t learn to control his mouth, he may find that the restrictions on his freedoms are a lot less severe in Moscow than in ADX Florence Colorado – aka Supermax – if he’s lucky enough that Vladimir Putin only kicks him out.Recommend

  • CM
    Sep 6, 2015 - 8:26AM

    Snowden fighting for gay rights looses my support. Recommend

  • Mike T.
    Sep 6, 2015 - 11:39AM

    To help “Moscow’s deteriorating human rights record,” Moscow should see the YouTube presentation titled: “The Science of Rights”Recommend

  • NJ
    Sep 6, 2015 - 12:45PM

    What an idiot – he’s lucky to be breathing. Find a girl, find a hobby, grow some damn flowers and keep your mouth shut unless it’s really important. Criticizing Russia, in Russia – being protected by Russia – is about the stupidest thing imaginable.Recommend

  • NJ
    Sep 6, 2015 - 12:47PM

    Or — he never said this at all and this is just pretext to have Russia boot him from the country now that I’m sure all useful information has been already taken, analyzed and used for all it’s worth.Recommend

  • Robert
    Sep 6, 2015 - 3:38PM

    I remember that… that didn’t seem to register with the MSM as much as it should have. And look at where we are today!Recommend

  • Nicholas Falcone Arena, Esq.
    Sep 6, 2015 - 4:01PM

    Considering the influence Snowden has had on the meaning of the Fourth Amendment
    of the US Constitution, inter alia, all in the interest of promoting rule of law, it is unclear to
    me why he is so maligned in some quarters.

    As Cicero pointed out over two thousand years ago, natural law holds that a statute or
    oath that defies common sense and reason is void. This is, after all, the whole idea
    of our Declarattion of Independence This highly intelligent and principled young man understood
    this well, and he shows his strong adherence to human rights by having the courage
    to speak out, even in surroundings less than hospitable.Recommend

  • Maxwell
    Sep 6, 2015 - 4:27PM

    So is the internet really freedom in America if the Government can track and spy on anyone at anytime without a warrant? Thanks to Snowden, we now know the US spies on innocent citizens internet access, cell phones and has build a huge data base for collecting personal information from people that have never done anything wrong, just in case these people may have opinions …political or otherwise in the future.Recommend

  • JH
    Sep 6, 2015 - 4:29PM

    Yes, the Russian Government is TOTALLY not spying, globally.Recommend

  • Sep 6, 2015 - 5:26PM

    –Mr. Snowden had best be circumspect with his criticism of the Country which is at the moment allowing him to accept their hospitality, times & attitudes can & often do change–

    If Mr. Snowden had been circumspect in his criticism of the USA he would not be in Russia. It looks like Mr. Snowden really is a man of principle. It disgust me that Obama has refused to pardon or offer a generous plea bargain.Recommend

  • Mary
    Sep 6, 2015 - 5:27PM

    Someday his Mother & Father will pass, Mr. Snowden, if you’re reading this, you won’t be able to go to their funerals. You are a sad man. Hope it was worth it.Recommend

  • ALEX
    Sep 6, 2015 - 5:47PM


  • Christobal
    Sep 6, 2015 - 5:54PM

    To everyone on here criticizing Snowden, I really have to ask, “Why?” These same people likely complain about the dictatorial nature of the Obama administration and the declining substance of our liberty and Constitutional protections. Yet what have you done about it? After becoming a governemnt contracting, with I’m what im sure were only professional intentions, Eric Snowden saw the gut wrenching truth of our government’s immoral disregarded for the individual and popular sovereignty which defines our first and only of its kind political system. He took personal responsibility for this state of affairs and thought it encumbent on himself to do something positive for change. Now at least the 4th Amendment is an issue again and the people are empowered to demand change they otherwise would not know needed effectuated. Do you think the new warrant requirements for cell phone tracking would exist if not for Snowden? But we will need people like those criticizing Snowden to wake up and smell the authoritarianism before we can get elected officials in office that will put an end to the most severe breaches of our personal autonomy, like the majority of the Patriot Act. Recommend

  • AlexU
    Sep 6, 2015 - 6:35PM

    A dog biting the hand that feeds it?Recommend

  • M@rk
    Sep 6, 2015 - 7:04PM

    Mr. Snowden just may come down with a bad case of polonium if he’s not careful.Recommend

  • Babbarsher Khan
    Sep 6, 2015 - 7:16PM

    Now “The Whistle-blower” will have to find new refuge, probably in Iran or the Islamic State of Iraq & Sham, they have better “human right records” than that of “pahelwan” Putin! Recommend

  • bernverdnardo
    Sep 6, 2015 - 11:21PM

    Maybe he should go back to China where they have a “long tradition of free speech” or whatever. Honestly, I quit paying attention to anything this guy says after he said that.Recommend

  • Larry Bradshaw
    Sep 6, 2015 - 11:40PM

    I don’t think Snowden is much of an intelligence man. Any 12 year old kid could have told him about the human rights situation in Russia…..before he went.Recommend

  • Diane
    Sep 7, 2015 - 2:03AM

    How many of you would give up your family, good job country to tell you idiots what the government is doing and lying to Congress about?Recommend

  • Patrick Turner
    Sep 7, 2015 - 5:02AM

    mr snowden may suddenly have an “accident”. Recommend

  • Steve
    Sep 7, 2015 - 6:21AM

    Snowden would be silently put in prison via our government if he were allowed to return. The United States may be just as bad as Russia as, we are becoming like Nazi Germany and it may be to late for Trump to come to the rescue.Recommend

  • mike manning
    Sep 7, 2015 - 8:34AM

    maybe he ought to come back to the U.S. and run for president. He would
    never be prosecuted and probably take some of Bernie’s supportRecommend

  • Cunning Linguist
    Sep 7, 2015 - 11:46AM

    Ohhhh. Now he gets it.Recommend

  • Curt
    Sep 7, 2015 - 1:13PM

    Snowden is not in “exile.” He is a fugitive. Not the same thing.Recommend

  • snowden
    Sep 8, 2015 - 12:57AM

    He must be part of anonymous. Now he’s telling how governments should behave.Recommend

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