Questions ranged from privacy on Facebook to the interception center in Hønefoss, when Snowden came to Studentersamfundet through Skype.
The great hall of Studentersamfundet in Trondheim hosted a conversation with Edward Snowden on sunday evening. The former CIA-employee spoke to the massive audience of nine hundred people through a live stream directly from his exile in Russia.
In June 2013, Snowden was the name on everyone’s lips after he shared a great number of classified intelligence files from the National Security Agency, NSA, with the public. This led to the United States government persecuting Snowden, and labeling him a traitor and a threat to national security.
The harsh reality whistleblowers face
The consequences whistleblowers face can be seen as harsh, however, the general consensus of the European Union might turn in favour of those who risk their freedom by sharing prohibited knowledge, such as Snowden did.
– In the EU we have seen calls for better whistleblower protection. In fact, a new Parliament passed a resolution that said people like myself should be protected from retaliation by member states.
While other whistleblowers might in the future face milder circumstances, Snowden informed Storsalen that the charges against him warrants thirty years in prison on a per document basis.
Despite intelligence agencies efforts to clench any implementations of changes to European laws, Snowden has a very clear message for the audience.
– Whistleblowers cannot be threatened into silence. In almost all cases, the individuals engaged in this know it is more than likely to be an act of self-immolation. You are lighting yourself on fire for the betterment of your country, your community, and your country.
THE NORWEGIAN SURVEILLANCE BASE
- March 1st 2018: The Intercept published an article revealing a secret surveillance base just outside of Oslo.
- The station goes by the codename Victory Garden
- In 2001, Norway government approached the NSA with the intention of buying foreign satellite technology, known as FORNSAT.
- December 15th 2005: The base was declared operational by Torgeir Hagen, the director of the Norwegian Intelligence Service.
The surveillance base in Hønefoss
Questions regarding the newly revealed discovery of a a secret spy base in Norway, were also raised in Storsalen. This base was built by norwegian intelligence in cooperation with the NSA, and was perhaps the most relevant question for the evenings audience. The way this base came to exist, as Snowden explains it, was by norwegian intelligence approachinged the NSA back in 2001.
– There is a long history in every country in Europe, and elsewhere around the world, where these countries say «we want to do more things, we want to spy on more people, we want more capabilities, but it might not be legal.»
Right to privacy
According to Snowden, the Norwegian intelligence agency was quick to announce when the discovery of the secret Norwegian spy base was made, that they are not using this technology to spy on norwegians in Norway talking to other norwegians in Norway. Their main focus is monitoring people who is communicating across the border.
– If you are connecting to facebook, you are going across the border. If you are connecting to google, you are going across the border. Since this story came out, the norwegian intelligence services has said, «we are not spying on Norwegians in Norway talking to other Norwegians in Norway. We are not spying on wholly domestic communications.»
Snowden further explains that there is a solidarity towards other countries lacking. Believing that it is okay for agencies to spy on other countries as long as it is not your own, will make matters worse.
– If we are going to have fundamental rights, and if we are going to have right to privacy, we have to recognize that one’s rights means nothing unless everyone’s rights means something.