Fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden told an audience in Texas on Monday, via a remote livestream from Russia, that he took a treasure trove of information about the NSA because he took an oath to defend the Constitution.
Snowden appeared on the live feed, which reportedly had technical problems, from an unknown location in Russia, which was broadcast to the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. A replay was expected to be available on the Internet.
Speaking for about one hour, Snowden said if he had a second chance, he wouldn’t change any of his actions.
“I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. And I saw the Constitution was being violated on a massive scale,” he said.
Snowden also urged the technology community to develop better tools to protect the privacy of data on digital devices.
Not everyone was happy with Snowden’s appearance via remote video at the conference.
Representative Mike Pompeo from Kansas, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, sent an open letter to South By Southwest asking the conference to stop the scheduled appearance.
Pompeo called Snowden a “systems administrator … whose only apparent qualification is his willingness to steal from his own government and then flee to that beacon of First Amendment freedoms, the Russia of Vladimir Putin.”
Snowden faces felony and other charges in the United States after he stole millions of documents related to the NSA’s surveillance program last year and released some of the documents to news organizations. He sought and received asylum in Russia.
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