Snowden's alternative Christmas message: Spying worse than in Orwell’s '1984'
In a televised message broadcast in Britain on Christmas Day, U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden called for the end of mass government spying, saying that a child born today will have "no conception of privacy."
Speaking directly to the camera from an undisclosed location in Moscow, Snowden said that the level of government surveillance has surpassed those described in George Orwell’s dystopian novel "1984."
"Great Britain's George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book – microphones and video cameras, TVs that can watch us -- are nothing compared to what we have available today," Snowden said.
"A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all."
Snowden goes on to say in the video that the debate occurring today about privacy "will determine the amount of trust we can place both in technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it."
The two-minute video marks Snowden’s first television appearance since he arrived in Russia.
The annual "Alternative Christmas Message," broadcast on Britain’s Channel 4 television, mirrors the format of the annual Christmas address delivered by Queen Elizabeth. Previous guest speakers have included former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.
Snowden, 30, remains in Moscow where the Russian government has granted him temporary asylum following his leak of information about the NSA's electronic surveillance program. His latest comments come amid an ongoing debate around the world over the tightening of mass surveillance.
In an earlier interview with the Washington Post, Snowden said he has achieved what he had set out to do.
"For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished," he said.
“I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
Washington Post columnist Barton Gellman, who interviewed Snowden, described him as an "indoor cat."
“He is essentially sitting somewhere in Russia eating ramen noodles and chips,” Gellman said.
He said Snowden didn’t have any regrets and is "very much at peace with his choices."
"He wanted to inspired, provoke, and galvanize a public debate."
In June, a U.S. federal prosecutor charged Snowden with unauthorized communication of national defence information. He is considered a traitor by some.
"Edward Snowden has delusions of grandeur. Unfortunately, he has caused tremendous damage," Republican Congressman Peter King said.
However, earlier this month, a U.S. federal judge ruled that the NSA’s collection methods may be unconstitutional.
Reactions to Snowden’s "Alternative Christmas Message" was mixed, with some people supporting the NSA leaker.
I RESPECT YOUR STRUGGLE- SIR SNOWDEN— Official Snowden (@SIRSNOWDEN) December 25, 2013
Others, however, were less supportive, describing the NSA leaker as a "low life."
With a report from CTV’s Joy Malbon