Snow­den warns of Is­raeli surveil­lance

‘This world will only ever be as good as we make it,’ says US whistle­blower

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

US whistle­blower Ed­ward Snow­den urged Is­raelis to be on guard against heavy-handed gov­ern­ment and pri­vate surveil­lance in a speech by video link Tues­day and de­fended his 2013 mas­sive leak of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments.

Snow­den high­lighted Is­rael’s high­tech ca­pa­bil­i­ties, but warned that ac­cept­ing too much gov­ern­ment surveil­lance and too eas­ily ac­ced­ing to the ar­gu­ment that it is needed for se­cu­rity rea­sons posed se­ri­ous risks.

“If we can al­low our­selves to be ter­ror­ized by some­one with noth­ing but a knife, to re­order our so­ci­eties for the con­ve­nience of state power... we’ve stopped be­ing cit­i­zens and we’ve started be­ing sub­jects,” said Snow­den, who spoke from an undis­closed lo­ca­tion in Moscow.

The 35-year-old also spoke of the NSO Group, the Is­rael-based com­pany known for its Pe­ga­sus spy­ware.

The soft­ware has been pin­pointed by in­de­pen­dent ex­perts as likely be­ing used in a num­ber of coun­tries with poor hu­man rights records.

“The idea is that com­pa­nies like this in­creas­ingly are pop­ping up all around the world,” Snow­den said.

In one case, in­ter­na­tional ex­perts in­ves­ti­gat­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of 43 stu­dents in Mex­ico in 2014 were tar­geted with the spy­ware af­ter it had been sold to the gov­ern­ment, the ex­perts said.

NSO Group says its prod­uct is in­tended to be used only for in­ves­ti­gat­ing and pre­vent­ing crime and ter­ror­ism.

It says it in­ves­ti­gates al­le­ga­tions of im­proper use.

Snow­den, a for­mer con­trac­tor with the US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency, leaked thou­sands of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments to the press in 2013 which re­vealed the vast scope of surveil­lance of pri­vate data put in place af­ter the 9/11 at­tacks. He has lived in ex­ile ever since. The United States has charged him with es­pi­onage and theft of state se­crets, but Snow­den said he still loves his coun­try and hopes to re­turn home.

But he said risks had to be taken since “this world will only ever be as good as we make it.”

Snow­den spoke to an in­vited au­di­ence in Tel Aviv at an event or­ga­nized by Is­raeli pub­lic re­la­tions agency OH! Oren­stein Hoshen.

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