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Snowden appears at Hanover IT fair

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Snowden appears at Hanover IT fair
Edward Snowden gives a talk via video at the CeBIT IT fair in Hanover on March 18th. Photo: DPA
09:28 CET+01:00
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden took part in a debate on data security on Wednesday at the CeBIT IT trade conference, via video link from Moscow.

Snowden joined in on a discussion with journalist Glenn Greenwald, who published the first reports of Snowden's US National Security Agency (NSA) spying revelations in The Guardian.

"They [the NSA] are looking for the people who are in this room right now," Snowden said to the crowd of IT workers. "You are their target, not because you're a terrorist, but because you have access to systems. You have access to the private records of people's private lives and these are the things that they want."

Since information about the spying surfaced, Snowden has become a hero to many Germans who are wary of government surveillance given the country's history with the Cold War East German secret police, or Stasi, and monitoring under the Nazi regime.

"The countries such as Germany that have benefited the most from the risks that he [Snowden] took are the same ones that have most shamefully turned their backs on him," Greenwald, who attended the conference in person, said.

Snowden has been living in Moscow since he leaked documents that revealed the wide scope of the NSA's spying on millions of people around the world, including tapping the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

The whisteblower has expressed interest in returning home to the United States in recent months, stating that he was consulting with American and German lawyers.

"I want to tell the jury why I did it. I want to tell the court what these programs are. I want the jury to decide whether it was right or wrong that our rights and or Constitution were being violated in secret," Snowden told the audience through video call.

Snowden applied for asylum in Germany shortly after releasing NSA documents, but was denied in July 2013. He did not reapply in 2014.

Laura Poitras, the American director of the Academy Award-winning documentary Citizenfour - which centres on the days after Snowden made the initial revelations - has said in interviews that she bases her work in Berlin because she fears her material could otherwise be taken by the US government.

Snowden said that he hoped he could come to the IT conference in person next year, but that he would first have to ask Merkel.

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