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'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 (30.08.2013).

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 "geopolitics."

"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 privacy."

(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.

This report was posted on September 5, 2013.