Video: Edward Snowden tells Oxford students that Government secrets undermine democracy
So many facts, figures and activities are being kept secret by Western governments that they are undermining democracy, Edward Snowden has told students in Oxford.
The fugitive from US justice recorded a video message for Oxford University students attending an award ceremony for Chelsea Manning, the US soldier sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment for releasing secrets to WikiLeaks.
The Sam Adams award to Manning was made at a ceremony held at the Oxford Union for “integrity in intelligence”.
Snowden is in Russia where he has been granted sanctuary, at least temporarily, from US attempts to arrest him after he publicly released thousands of classified National Security Agency documents. He apologised wryly for his absence – “Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there tonight.” He will himself be the subject of a debate at the Oxford Union tonight [Thursday] when he will be proposed as “a hero”
In his four-minute video message Snowden addressed what he described as “over-classification”, the excessive number of secrets kept by the US and other Western states.
“Over-classification, where the government uses the state’s secrets privilege to withhold information from the public that’s not related to national security and is otherwise unjustified, has been a serious problem,” he said.
Over the last year, he said, the White House admitted 95 million records had been classified as secret in 2012.
This, he argued, shows that not just the US government but also other Western nations are “keeping more secrets than ever”. Such secrets, he observed, include absurdities such as Australia’s ruling that the price of shrimps and clove cigarettes in Indonesia are a “matter of national security”.
He paid tribute to Manning for releasing documents that revealed the type of information that the US government tried to prevent the public knowing.
“How can we vote without evidence of the true costs of the wars in which we are involved?” he asked “Instances of public corruption, official corruption, in nations that we support and ally ourselves with, or even national participation in torture programmes, rendition programmes and unambiguous war crimes. All of these were represented in the Manning brief.
“The foundation of democracy is the consent of the governed. After all, we cannot consent to programmes and policies about which we are never informed.
“The decline of democracy begins when the domain of government expands beyond the borders of its public’s knowledge.”
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
- 1 10 ways we damage our teeth – without realising
- 4 Photo of wedding guest proposing to girlfriend in front of bride and groom goes viral
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: it's just gravity — not a Mexican demon being summoned
£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...
£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...