The Washington Post

Edward Snowden’s virtual appearance today — from Russia

This June 9, 2013 photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras)

It’s the moment many have been waiting for — a chance to talk to National Security Agency document-dumper Edward Snowden.

Today marks Snowden’s first appearance, or virtual appearance, however, he’s not giving up his asylum to speak at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin. He’ll appear via videoconference from Russia alongside his lawyer, Ben Wizner, and American Civil Liberties Union technologist Chris Soghoian.

Snowden is planning to speak about the impact U.S. surveillance has had on the technology community as well as encourage technologists to build tools that will better protect users’ privacy, NPR reported.

It’s a move that has sparked political backlash. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., wrote a letter to SXSW organizers last week asking them not to put Snowden in the panel on protecting people’s privacy. He wrote:

“Mr. Snowden’s appearance would stamp the imprimatur of your fine organization on a man who ill deserves such accolades. Rewarding Mr. Snowden’s behavior in this way encourages the very lawlessness he exhibited. Such lawlessness — and the ongoing intentional distortion of truth that he and his media enablers have engaged in since the release of these documents — undermines the very fairness and freedom that SXSW and the ACLU purport to foster. I strongly urge you to withdraw this invitation.”

Nevertheless, Snowden isn’t the first to appear in spite of protest. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange Skyped in on Saturday and Glenn Greenwald is also expected to chime in today, according to Forbes.

To watch the live panel, go to the Texas Tribune website at 11 a.m. CST.

Why is he doing it? Why was he invited.

The Post’s Barton Gellman-who broke a lot of stories using the leaked documents-explains:

Edward Snowden speaks to the South By Southwest conference in Austin through a live video stream. What's motivating him to make this appearance? The Post's Barton Gellman, who interviewed Snowden exclusively in December, explains. (Julie Percha/The Washington Post)
Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Tweet her: @lindseybever



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