Edward Snowden calls on Pope and UN to protect sources

The ex-contractor who blew the whistle on American and British mass spying on citizens is speaking out again. Edward Snowden - who was forced to seek asylum in Russia after he revealed himself as the source of the leak - has launched a Privacy Treaty.


It calls on the newly appointed United Nations Privacy Rapporteur Joseph Canatacci to protect privacy worldwide as a human right. The Treaty campaign was launched in New York, to coincide with the UN General Assembly and the visit of the Pope.


Snowden Treaty - YoutubeSnowden has the support of Glenn Greenwald, the Brazil-based blogger and Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who met him in Hong Kong to help tell his story, and of the American film-maker Laura Poitras. She filmed the process, documenting Snowden’s agonising decision to leave his home, family and girlfriend for the sake of revealing the mass-spying practices that he believed to be wrong. Poitras’s film, ‘Citizenfour,’ won an Oscar – Hollywood’s highest accolade for a documentary picture. And Glenn Greenwald has received – amongst other awards – the 2014 Prize for Freedom and Future of the Media from the Media Foundation of the Leipzig Sparkasse, one of the ECPMF’s partner organisations.


Heavyweight intellectual supporters for the Privacy Treaty also include Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein, both prominent campaigners for freedom of expression and the rights of citizens to be treated as individuals, not just consumers.


Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda is co-ordinating the campaign to gain international traction for the Treaty, working with the online petitions website Avaaz. They have also gathered more than one million signatures for a petition to the Brazilian government to offer Snowden asylum in Brazil.


You can hear ECPMF’s Jane Whyatt’s interview with David Miranda here:


Miranda has suffered for his connection to the Snowden affair. In 2013 after visiting Laura Poitras in Berlin he was held by anti-terrorist officers at London’s Heathrow airport on his return journey to Rio de Janeiro. They questioned him for nine hours and confiscated his computer equipment, USB sticks, phones and games consoles before releasing him without charge.  


In his interview with ECPMF, Miranda explains why privacy is important to journalists - who need to protect their confidential sources - and how Edward Snowden continues to campaign despite being unable to leave Russian territory.  As a former National Security Agency contractor, Snowden had access to the highest levels of classified documents and leaked 38.000 secret files. He now lives in Moscow, where relations with the US are strained. So he may face arrest and extradition to the United States if he tried to leave.


The draft of the Snowden Treaty is still not complete, and its backers are calling for participation from media freedom campaigners all over the world, to make it robust and truly representative.

Here is the latest wording.


It will be received by the new Rapporteur on Privacy Joseph Canatacci, an international lawyer and professor at universities in Malta, Australia and the USA who has specialised in digital rights and published a book on privacy.  In his application for the new job – published on the UN website – he remarks that his academic teams are gender-imbalanced, with three women for every man. “We are interested in developing privacy rights which may particularly advance the position of women in society” he says, adding that he wants to be a ‘Rapporteur for everybody’.


Whatever happens to the petition, it will probably need to be printed out on paper for Mr. Canatacci. He respects his own privacy so much that he is not enrolled on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media platform. 


However it has also been delivered to the Pope and the Holy Father – who has addressed the United Nations General Assembly – is active on Twitter with the handle @Pontifex.