Snowden: Whistleblowers are Chosen by Circumstance

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( — May 17, 2015) — Former NSA contractor, who revealed the agency’s vast and controversial surveillance activities in the US and abroad, said he couldn’t do it without the journalists.

During his video-link speech at Stanford University Snowden emphasized the role of the media, saying that there was no way for him to leak the files to the press anonymously as it could have led to a witch-hunt within the NSA, putting his former colleagues under threat, Business Insider reported.

“Whistleblowers are elected by circumstance. Nobody self-nominates to be a whistleblower because it’s so painful. Your lives are destroyed whether you are right or wrong. This is not something people sign up for,” he stressed.

Snowden told Stanford University students and professors that he doesn’t see himself neither as a hero nor a traitor, but “only a man, who reached a critical moment,” after which he just couldn’t remain silent.

“We all have a limit of injustice, of incivility, of inhumanity in our daily life that we can kind of accept and ignore. We turn our eyes away from the beggar on the street. We also have a breaking point and when people find that, they act,” he explained.

“You have to have a greater commitment to justice than a fear of the law,” Snowden added.

Asked about his life in Russia, Snowden said he has been working much harder, earning less, but at the end of the day, he is very satisfied because he does more significant things.  

“The fact is I was getting paid an extraordinary amount of money for very little work [at the NSA] with very little in the way of qualifications,” Snowden said via satellite link during an event at Stanford University on Friday.

Snowden said that in Russia, his work changed significantly. “I have to work a lot harder to do the same thing,” he said.

In his addressing to the Stanford University crowd, Snowden, pointed out the difference that even though he lost a lot, at the end of the day he has “a tremendous sense of satisfaction,” Business Insider cited the whistleblower.

Snowden didn’t reveal exactly what he has been working on in exile, saying that he is the type of person who believes in being judged on the final result.