During an ACLU panel at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden called on those attending the tech conference to take up the torch against the U.S. government’s surveillance of its citizens, according to a report today from CNN.com.
Speaking via teleconference from Russia, who has given the fugitive asylum after leaking NSA documents, called on the tech-savvy crowd to become activists in what he calls a defense of the U.S. Constitution.
“South by Southwest and the tech community, the people in the room in Austin, they're the folks who can fix this,” Snowden said. “There's a political response that needs to occur, but there's also a tech response that needs to occur.”
When asked if he’d leak the documents, which shed light the on secret monitoring of Americans via the phone and Internet supposedly for the sake of national security, Snowden said, “Absolutely.”
“I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Snowden said. “And I saw the Constitution was being violated on a massive scale.”
Snowden called for more public oversight on the nation’s surveillance apparatus, saying, “We need a watchdog that watches Congress, because if we’re not informed we can’t consent to these (government) policies.”
Not all thought the question and answer session to be appropriate, including Rep. Mike Pompeo, R–Kan., who denounced SXSW organizers for allowing Snowden to speak at the festival, according to Reuters.
"Rewarding Mr. Snowden's behavior in this way encourages the very lawlessness he exhibited," Pompeo wrote to the festival’s organizers.
ACLU lawyers Chris Sogohian and Ben Wizner, Snoden’s legal council, took questions from the audience and via Twitter and relayed them to Snowden, who appeared in the teleconference streamed through several routers for security.