Edward Snowden Calls for 'Digital Democracy' in Trump Era

Edward Snowden Calls for 'Digital Democracy' in Trump Era

Snowden told attendees of a future tech conference, "votes matter but never are enough."

Edward Snowden continued his efforts to push for "digital democracy" and what it means under a Trump administration, but did not address what his own future may hold as an exile in Russia.

Snowden spoke live via a telepresence robot to a conference in Oakland, Calif., called the Real Future Fair sponsored by the website Fusion.

His comments were streamed on Facebook and YouTube. He also spoke Monday to law students in Buenos Aires and a tech conference in Amsterdam last week.

"If you want to build a better future, you have to do it yourself," Snowden said Monday. "Elections matter, votes matter but never are enough."

Snowden is a former intelligence analyst and is wanted by U.S. law enforcement authorities for revealing details of secret surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency. He landed in Moscow in June 2013 and has been living there ever since.

President-elect Donald Trump has called Snowden "a traitor."

For his part, Snowden said that technology has helped him and other whistleblowers and dissidents stay alive and broadcasting.

"With every morning I go to sleep, I grow more hopeful that you can't stop the signal anymore, you can't shut out outside voices," he said. "We are living through an extraordinary moment, the end of exile as a political tool of repression. We are starting to see not just for America and its dissidents, but others throughout the world can speak in a protected manner."

Snowden had urged his 2.5 million Twitter followers to vote for a third-party candidate this year. Part of that was his seeing pre-election polls showing that Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton had been given a better than 90 percent chance of victory.

"At the time, it seemed like there was never be a safer election for a third party option. Now, people are wondering was that the wrong thing," Snowden said. "But it's inappropriate that people should not vote for people they do not believe in. Now we are getting into a politics that is against choice and progression and instead you must always choose between two bad options."

Snowden wasn't asked nor did he volunteer any information about his future in Russia. President-elect Trump spoke to Russian president Vladimir Putin this week by phone and the two have decided to meet.

Will the fate of Snowden, who is still under an American arrest warrant, be part of negotiations over some other deal?

Andrei Soldatov is a Moscow-based journalist and author of the new book "The Red Web" about the history of Russian surveillance techniques. He said that Snowden's days in Russia could be numbered if Putin decides to use him in a bigger geopolitical chess game.

"If (Putin) decides to give up Snowden, that is not a big problem inside Russia," Soldatov told Seeker via Skype from Russia. "Maybe it would not even be a problem for Putin's reputation abroad. Even outside Russia, they are divided about his actions. One day Putin may decide 'I've had this card for three years why not use it now.' "

Soldatov said that while Snowden has been a frequent critic of U.S. intelligence and surveillance measures to the Western media, he has refused to answer questions about his relationship to Russia security agencies to Moscow-based journalists.

"Mr. Snowden didn't give any options for journalists to check and understand what's going on with him. He keeps pretending that he is another country and not Russia. He has refused to talk to Russian or Moscow-based journalists. It's impossible to understand his situation, he's extremely secretive."

Soldatov said that one way he has kept out of jail in Russia is to make public any time Russian security agents contact him in any way.

"The best protection is to be transparent about your dealing with the security service," Soldatov said. "It's my strategy and this happens to be quite the thing that has kept me out of prison for all these years. When you are transparent it's a good thing."

Soldatov also noted that Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, is also a member of the public council of the Russian security service, known as the FSB.

The public council was established in 2007 to promote the image of the FSB. Kucherena also serves as chairman of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, an organisation for Russia's propaganda machine, according to Soldatov.

Kucherena's spy novel about an American whistleblower was optioned by Hollywood filmmaker Oliver Stone and became part of the screenplay of Stone's recent film "Snowden." Kucherena also helped arrange to get Snowden into the film, in which he also appears via telepresence robot at the end.

Soldatov notes the irony of a Snowden arguing for human rights and privacy freedoms in a country with a questionable record and human rights and which has had a large-scale effort to quash internet freedoms.

"I do not think he is manipulated," Soldatov said about Snowden. "But he is definitely bound by some secret or private agreements. There were some rules imposed on him. He has accepted those rules."

Originally posted on seeker

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