Edward Snowden: “Journalism is one of the most effective leverages we still have”

Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras on Friday joined via video the panel discussion “Snowden and the debate on surveillance versus privacy” at the International Journalism Festival 2015 in Perugia. Together with Ben Wizner (Snowden’s lawyer, ACLU), Patrizio Gonnella (president CILD), Andrea Menapace (director CILD), and Fabio Chiusi (journalist and author), they discussed how media can affect the global debate on surveillance versus privacy.

Edward Snowden


“Journalism is one of the most effective leverages we still have, and I would argue, in some ways, it’s one of the only leverages we still have”, said Snowden.

Snowden, key figure of the global anti-surveillance protest, discussed the key role – and the responsibility – of the journalists in upholding citizens’ rights and in revealing the issues that the governments would prefer to keep secret.

One of the most powerful tools to raise awareness and put important issues into the spotlight is visual media. Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning documentary about Snowden, had a great impact on the public perception of the whistleblower and his revelations.

“The movies can reach the public in a different way rather than reporting, people go for the story and I think they understand Ed’s motivation a little bit differently,” said Poitras.

The event was organised in association with the Italian Coalition for Civil Rights and Freedoms (CILD) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Founded in 2014, CILD supports the civil groups working to address human rights issues. In the past, in Italy the anti-surveillance movement was not as loud as in the rest of Europe, yet significant progress has been made over the last year.

Andrea Menapace, executive director of CILD, said that the civil rights organisations are often ignored by the media and struggle to inform people.

“We need to inform the public here, in Italy, because sometimes the journalists and the media are not doing their jobs properly”, said Menapace.

Ben Wizner, Snowden’s lawyer and director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, agreed that the discussion on surveillance needs to be brought to the public sphere. He also noticed that as one of the current candidates at the US presidential elections used the privacy rights enforcement in his campaign, the issue entered into the nation-wide political agenda.

You can watch the full interview with Ben Wizner here:

You can watch the panel discussion below: