Courage our network

Stop Watching Us, Washington DC, 26 October

Stop Watching US protesters, Washington DC

Stop Watching US protesters, Washington DC

On 26 October 2013, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the US Patriot Act, thousands of people gathered to rally against NSA surveillance. The rally was held by Stop Watching Us, a coalition of more than 100 organisations, who collected more than 575,000 signatures for its petition to the US Congress demanding that the NSA be held accountable for its actions and to reform the laws enabling government surveillance.

During the rally boxes of signed petitions were handed over to Congress and the crowd marched to the Capitol building. Jesselyn Radack, National Security and Human Rights Director of the Government Accountability Project, read out a statement written by Edward Snowden. Numerous others spoke at the event, including Congressman Justin Amash, former NSA executive and whistleblower Thomas Drake, security researcher Bruce Schneier and former Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

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Snowden statement to European Parliament committee investigating NSA/GCHQ surveillance

Originally read by Jesselyn Radack as part of her statement to the EU LIBE Inquiry meeting of 30 September 2013. A transcript of the statement was also posted online at Firedoglake

I thank the European Parliament and the LIBE Committee for taking up the challenge of mass surveillance. The surveillance of whole populations rather than individuals threatens to be the greatest human rights challenge of our time. The success of economies in developing nations relies increasingly on their creative output and if that success is to continue we must remember that creativity is the product of curiosity, which in turn is the product of privacy.

A culture of secrecy has denied our societies the opportunity to determine the appropriate balance between the human right of privacy and governmental interest in investigation.

These are not decisions that should be made for the people but only by the people after fully informed and fearless debate. Yet public debate is not possible without public knowledge and in my country the cost for one in my position of returning public knowledge to public hands has been persecution and exile.

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Freedom Not Fear Day, Brussels, 27 September

Freedom Not Fear was an event held in Brussels on the weekend starting Friday 27 September about issues that Edward Snowden’s revelations helped illuminate. The purpose of this yearly event is to advocate for “defending fundamental rights in our networked world”.

This year the event keynote was given by privacy expert Caspar Bowden, who recently published a study on ‘privacy in the cloud’ for the European Parliament. Bowden discussed what has been learnt since Snowden’s revelations and how this affects Europe.

Brazilian Press Association: International Human Rights Award

Announced on 17 September 2013, awarded on 20 September 2013

Edward Snowden was named joint recipient of the Brazilian Press Association’s Human Rights Medal for services to humanity, the right of citizenship and the right to information. The other awardees were Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, Bradley Manning, the late Aaron Swartz and Mordechai Vanunu.

The Association gave the award to Snowden as he is “determined to provide utility service to humanity”.

Read more: ABI homenageia defensores da liberdade de imprensa e de informação

Nominations for Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

Nominated on 16 September 2013 and 10 September 2015

Edward Snowden has the distinction of being nominated for the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize in two separate years.

On 16 September 2013 it was announced that Edward Snowden was one of seven nominees for the 2013 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The Sakharov Prize is awarded annually by the European Parliament to honour individuals and organisations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Snowden was nominated by the Greens/EFA group and the GUE/NGL group.

Under the auspices of the European Parliament, the EU Foreign Affairs and Development Committees and the Human Rights Subcommittee another vote was taken on 30 September, to create a shortlist of three of the nominees. Edward Snowden was one of the three shortlisted nominees, along with Malala Yousafzai and Belarusian activists.

Although the prize was eventually given to Malala on 10 October 2013, Snowden received huge support to win the prize, including a letter written on 9 October by 23 European organisations. The open letter stated that these organisations supported the nomination of Snowden due to his revelations having “triggered a necessary and long-overdue public debate in the United States and beyond about the accepted boundaries of surveillance in a democratic state”.

Edward Snowden was nominated for the 2015 Sakharov Prize, alongside fellow whistleblowers Antoine Deltour and Stéphanie Gibould and others on 10 September 2015. Saudi dissident Raif Badawi was announced as the winner of the prize on 29 October.

Transparency International Germany: Whistleblower Prize

Awarded on 30 August 2013 in Berlin

On 25 July, Edward Snowden was given the German Transparency International Whistleblower Award for 2013. The award ceremony took place on 30 August in Berlin where Jacob Appelbaum read an acceptance speech from Snowden.

The award, given by Transparency International, the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) and the Association of German Scientists (Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenshaftler or VDW), comes with a prize of €3,000.

“His courageous deed gave the world community insight into the surveillance and espionage activities of our secret services,” wrote Transparency International as the group’s motivation for the award.

Snowden awarded the Sam Adams Award

Awarded on 8 July 2013

Edward Snowden was awarded the Sam Adams Integrity Award on 8 July 2013. The Sam Adams Associates praised him for his decision to reveal the extent of mass surveillance by the NSA.

Thomas Drake, himself a former NSA senior executive and whistleblower, called Snowden’s actions “an amazingly brave act of civil disobedience”.

The Sam Adams Associates are a group of former intelligence officers turned whistleblowers and previous award-winners include Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

Restore the Fourth, 4 July

A Restore the Fourth rally was held in more than 80 cities and in every US state on 4 July 2013, with more than 10,000 people estimated to have gathered in protest against mass electronic surveillance.

Restore the Fourth protest in New York City.

Restore the Fourth protest in New York City.

‘We DO NOT consent!’, New York City, 19 June

A rally was held at Cooper Union, New York City, on the evening of 19 June in support of Edward Snowden and Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, and to call for the closing of the Guantanamo detention facility. Special guests included Mike Daisey, Ray McGovern, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Debra Sweet and Dennis Leo.