The fugitive NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has thanked Glasgow University students for electing him rector via video-link in his first address.
The 30-year-old, who succeeds former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, made his inaugural address to about 200 staff and students at a ceremony at the Scottish institution’s Bute Hall after being elected to the post in February.
In his address, he thanked students, the Students’ Representative Council and everyone who took part in the elections, and expressed disappointment that he couldn’t be there in person.
He added: “In a democracy people have a right to know the policies of their government. This idea that if we believe in something we should stand up for it is what I will follow in my role as rector of the university.”
Mr Snowden gained more than 3,000 votes in both the first and second rounds during the election under the single transferable vote system to be elected to the three-year post. He defeated Graeme Obree, the champion cyclist, Alan Bissett, an author and playwright, and Kelvin Holdsworth, a clergyman of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Rectors are elected at each of the four ancient Scottish universities (Glasgow, St Andrews, Edinburgh and Aberdeen) as well as Dundee, and serve a term of three years. They represent students on the University Court, the institution's senior governing body, and work with the students' representative council.
His role as rector will be to represent student issues to senior management at the university, and attend five meetings at the institution’s governing body, the university court.
The computer technician left his hometown in the United States last May after he leaked a series of documents by the National Security Agency which revealed large state surveillance of phone and Internet communications.