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Edward Snowden elected rector of Glasgow University


NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will take up a senior post at one of Scotland's oldest universities after winning a student vote.

He will succeed former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy as the lord rector of the University of Glasgow, responsible for representing the interests of students to the University management.

Snowden, who is currently residing in Russia after seeking temporary asylum there, agreed to take part in the contest after a group of students contacted his lawyers. The Edward Snowden for Rector campaign called his candidacy "a unique opportunity to show our gratitude to a brave whistleblower".

His nomination attracted criticism from some student groups, however, because he will not be able to properly fulfil the role. Rectors are normally expected to be active and regularly visit the university to meet with students and staff.

Glasgow students have a history of electing rectors as political statements. Winne Mandela was given the role in 1987, and Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli whisteblower, won the vote in 2005. Neither was ever expected to carry out their responsibilities.

Snowden won the two-round ballot with 3,347 votes by the end, 51 per cent of the total. 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.