LETHBRIDGE - One of the world's most important figures will speak to an audience at the University of Lethbridge Tuesday (May 9) via live weblink at the U of L Theatre.
Along with the University of Winnipeg, and Brandon University, Edward Snowden will speak to the three audiences from Russia, where he currently has asylum status.
University of Lethbridge Professor Dr. Harold Jansen will moderate the event, which will include a brief introduction, and a one hour presentation by the 33-year old Snowden, followed by a brief Q & A.
Snowden is a U.S. Citizen who worked for nearly a decade as a cyber security expert and intelligence officer for for the CIA, NSA, and Defence Intelligence Agency.
In 2013, he revealed to journalists that the National Security Agency, in conjunction with other world- wide organizations, was seizing the private records of tens of millions of people who were not criminals, and were not suspected of any wrongdoing.
That information then appeared in the Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers.
Jansen says its an incredible opportunity to hear directly from a man who changed the world with his information.
"Security agencies are supposed to be focused on protecting national security from outside threats, and not be turned against their own citizens. That really is the issue he brought to light."
He believes that Snowden is is often simplified as either being a hero, or an incredible villian who has made everyone much less safe.
" What I hope people get is a much more nuanced view. I think he's a fascinating person. There's a lot more complication to what he did and why he did it. He didn't do this from what I understand and from what I've seen as an act of 'stick it to the United States.' Far from it. This is somebody who worked in security and obviously cared about it a great deal."
Jansen also emphasizes that there's a fine line between what kind of information governments should be able to gather, from whom, and under what circumstances, and that's why Snowden has also received awards for courage, integrity, and public service.
He was named the top global thinker of 2013 by Foreign Policy magazine.
"Sometimes the government needs to gather data," Jansen explains. "But governments are also bound by the rule of law. And one of the fundamental principles of a Liberal Democracy is when we establish rules, everybody abides by them, including governments. And when they don't, that's incredibly problematic."
Today, Snowden works on methods of enforcing human rights, and is President of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Tickets for the event are $20, or $12.50 for students and seniors. They are available online or at the U of L box office.
The event gets underway at 4:45 pm.
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