Article Lead Image

Watch Edward Snowden speak for the first time in months

Snowden condemned the NSA's ability to operate without public knowledge of its operations. And he smiled for once.


Kevin Collier


Posted on Oct 13, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 4:21 am CDT

For the first time since June, footage of Edward Snowden speaking about his National Security Agency leaks is finally available to the public.

Six new clips, released by WikiLeaks Saturday on YouTube, show a speech Snowden gave Thursday at a small gathering where he received the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. For reasons not immediately clear, none of the clips are more than a minute long.

Not much is known of Snowden’s day-to-day activities since he accepted temporary asylum in Russia in July. But it’s safe to assume the engagement was one of the most eventful for him in recent months. Four fellow American whistleblowers, including former NSA analyst Thomas Drake, flew to Russia for the ceremony, as did Federal Security Service lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.

Snowden’s speech was clearly in the same vein as the blockbuster interview he gave Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald in Hong Kong in June, filmed by Laura Poitras. In his speech—or at least in the clips WikiLeaks released—Snowden doesn’t get into technical details about NSA programs but rather condemns the scope of the agency’s surveillance and the effect the lack of privacy can have on a person.

He spoke particularly against the NSA’s ability to operate without the public’s knowledge of its activities.

For some reason, WikiLeaks also released a five-second silent clip of Snowden smiling.

And this silent clip shows Snowden seated with only a handful of people around him. He sat between his father and WikiLeaks’ Sarah Harrison, a near-constant companion since he left the U.S.

Despite his circumstances, Snowden only once slightly raised his voice. He noted the incongruity between the fact that he’s been charged with espionage and trapped in Russia, though officials like the James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, stands free after admitting he lied to Congress about the NSA.

Correction: The original version of this story misidentified Federal Security Service lawyer Anatoly Kucherena as Snowden’s father, Lonnie, who is in Russia but whose attendance at the event cannot be confirmed at this time. We regret the error. 

Screengrab via WikiLeaks/YouTube

Share this article
*First Published: Oct 13, 2013, 12:34 pm CDT