'Snowden did it for all of us'
an article by DW - Deutsche Welle
The award ceremony for the German Whistleblower
Prize in Berlin showed how differently Edward
Snowden's leak of classified data can be
interpreted. The state or the individual: where
should the change begin?
click on photo to enlarge
"The power of a single person can change the world -
that is the lesson taught to us by Edward J.
Snowden," said Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who
has led reporting for the British newspaper The
Guardian on material leaked to him by Snowden.
Snowden, a child of a normal middle class family,
made a significant choice, said Greenwald. "This
made an impression on many people around the world,
and inspired them to stand up against lies and
falsehoods," he said.
Greenwald is currently in South America, and spoke
to those gathered at the ceremony via a video
conference. Around 300 people, mainly older
scientists, intellectuals and politicians, were
intently listening. Greenwald's message was one of
the highlights of the eighth Whistleblower Prize
ceremony, awarded to Snowden in Berlin on Friday
Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia,
was unable to attend the ceremony in person and
was represented by an empty chair in front of the
guests. He was honored by the Federation of German
Scientists (VDW), the International Association Of
Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) and
Transparency International for leaking information
about US National Security Agency (NSA)
surveillance of Internet and phone traffic as well
as other classified data. Snowden worked as a
contractor for the NSA.
Internet activist Jacob Appelbaum spoke with Snowden
before the event and accepted the award on his
behalf. Speaking in front of the crowd, he said
Snowden had asked him not to talk too much about
"Instead, he asked me to speak about individuals and
about the hope for change," said Appelbaum.
He said everyone had the strength to stand up
against corruption, war crimes and lies - every
day and at any time. It wasn't so much about the
topic of Internet freedom, but personal freedoms -
spying on the Internet is commonplace, he said,
something from which no one is immune. "That's why
we need an honest discussion of whether and how
much we want to spy on each other."
"He did away with the propaganda machine and did
it for all of us," said Appelbaum. Snowden was
described as a man who truly cared about the
welfare of others, a man who had earlier asked
Appelbaum first if he had slept well before asking
whether everything was organized for the event.
That was typical of Snowden.
Appelbaum then read a letter from Snowden, who
thanked the organizations for the award before
symbolically sharing it with "all the individuals
and organizations in the countless countries all
over the world who have overcome linguistic and
geographical boundaries to come together and
defend the public right to truth and the value of
(This article is continued in the discussionboard)
Question(s) related to this article:
The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?
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Latest reader comment:
Whistle-blowers may be considered as very important actors for a culture of peace. As described on the CPNN page for values, attitudes and actions for a culture of peace, the culture of war is characterized by propaganda, secrecy, government control of media, militaristic language and censorship while the culture of peace is characterized by the free flow and sharing of information. Whistle-blowers break the back of secrecy directly and dramatically.
Mordecai Vanunu's courage continues the tradition of Daniel Ellsberg, who made known the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War and Karen Silkwood, who exposed nuclear pollution in the United States. Ellsberg was persecuted by President Nixon and Karen Silkwood was murdered, as described some years ago in a very fine film starring Meryl Streep.
As the amount of government secrecy continues to increase, we may expect that the number of whistle-blowers will also tend to increase in the years to come.