Last week, Edward Snowden gave a talk to a packed room of 650 people at Dalhousie University. Snowden wasn’t there, of course. He spoke through a video link, apparently from somewhere in Moscow.
I wrote about the event for Dal News, and you can read the story here. Snowden, of course, became famous, or infamous, in 2013 after he copied and leaked thousands of documents detailing the extent of global surveillance being carried out by the US and its allies, including Canada.
The talk was a benefit for the so-called “Snowden refugees” — a group I had not heard of. These are the people, refugees from the Philippines and Sri Lanka, seeking asylum in Hong Kong, who hid Snowden when he feared being abducted and tortured. Snowden’s lawyer, Robert Tibbo, is hoping Canada will offer them asylum. (Canada has taken in two of the group, a mother and daughter.)
Snowden is a fascinating character, no matter what you think of him. I was quite taken with his speaking style: intense and focused. He also seemed genuinely uncomfortable and even embarrassed at the standing ovation he got at the end. One of the things that struck me most about Snowden’s talk was his optimism about the future. He feels that now that we recognize the extent of the problem of government and corporate surveillance capitalism, we can work to change it. If you’ve got a bit of time, it’s worth watching the video of the talk above. (Or just read my story.)