Edward Snowden has a new gig: Joins board of press freedom group


Edward Snowden in Moscow in December. (Barton Gellman for The Washington Post)

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has a new gig: He's joining the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. "It is tremendously humbling to be called to serve the cause of our free press, and it is the honor of a lifetime to do so alongside extraordinary Americans like Daniel Ellsberg on FPF’s Board of Directors," Snowden said in a statement on the organization's blog.

"Journalism isn't possible unless reporters and their sources can safely communicate," he wrote, "and where laws can't protect that, technology can. This is a hard problem, but not an unsolvable one, and I look forward to using my experience to help find a solution.”

The Foundation is currently crowd-sourcing funds to develop open-source encryption tools for journalists, and last year it took over maintenance of an anonymous digital dropbox project co-created by the late Aaron Swartz.

Co-founder and executive director Trevor Timm declined to comment on whether Snowden would be teleconferencing into meetings, but thinks he will be able to support some of the group's work to create encryption tools for journalists. "He probably knows more than almost anyone on how sources can safely communicate with journalists, and digital security has been one of the most pressing press freedom issues of the 21st century," Timm said. "So he will hopefully be very valuable teaching the larger journalism community how to protect their sources now that the Justice Department has prosecuted a record number of them."

Presumably, Snowden will be discharging his duties with the Freedom of the Press Foundation while continuing his local job working for a Russian Web site. He is already pretty familiar with some of his new colleagues on the board, including journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, both of whom he has worked with on stories about NSA spying programs -- and both of whom helped co-found the group.

"We began this organization to protect and support those who are being punished for bringing transparency to the world's most powerful factions or otherwise dissent from government policy," Greenwald wrote on the organization's Web site. "Edward Snowden is a perfect example of our group's purpose, as he's being persecuted for his heroic whistle blowing, and it is very fitting that he can now work alongside us in defense of press freedom, accountability, and the public’s right-to-know."

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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