in brief Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has heavily criticised NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden during a visit to the United States. The Liberal MP’s full speech is not yet online, but the ABC reports (we recommend you click here for the full article) that Bishop told the Alliance 21 conference in a keynote address:
“[Snowden] continues to shamefully betray his nation while skulking in Russia. This represents unprecedented treachery. He is no hero. I am surprised that any responsible entity or organisation or people could label him as some kind of hero.”
The comments represent only the latest time that a senior Australian politician has heavily criticised Snowden. In December, Federal Attorney-General George Brandis reacted to the revelation of what a Queen’s Counsel lawyer stated were borderline illegal surveillance tactics by the Australian Signals Directorate by supporting the agency and accusing NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden of being an “American traitor”.
And in August last year, then-Labor Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus made the public statement that Snowden and accused WikiLeaks collaborator Bradley Manning were not technically “whistleblowers”, claiming that the information they had released publicly related to no wrongdoing by government agencies.
However, globally, Snowden’s revelations about the electronic surveillance activities of the US National Security Agency have been welcomed by many. Most Western countries have set up inquiries into the extent of NSA spying on their citizens. In Australia, the Greens in December successfully moved a motion in the Senate to establish a formal inquiry into Internet surveillance, through a review that will take place into the controversial Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act.
In addition, following the ongoing Snowden revelations, US President Barack Obama last week called for ending the government’s control of phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans and immediately ordered intelligence agencies to get a secretive court’s permission before accessing such records.
Snowden shot to international fame in May 2013, after the NSA contractor collaborated with newspapers such as The Guardian to reveal a series of controversial US spy programs operated by agencies such as the National Security Agency, including direct access to data held by US technology giants such as Apple, Microsoft and Google . The US Government has charged Snowden with espionage and theft of government property, but much of the international community, and even respected US politicians such as former President Jimmy Carter, have applauded his actions as both patriotic and also serving humanity. In addition, a number of legal challenges have already been mounted to the legitimacy of the spying programs in the US.
Image credit: Screenshot of the film Prism by Praxis Films, believed to be OK to use under fair use