BOULDER – More than 2,000 students, faculty members and people from the community gathered in CU-Boulder’s Mackey Auditorium Tuesday evening to hear from Edward Snowden.
The former NSA contractor who leaked massive amounts of information on government surveillance programs spoke via live video stream from Russia, where he has been living since 2013.
Attendees watched a Google Hangout between former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind and Snowden, who were seated in a grey room in Moscow.
This appearance cost the university $56,000 – which came from student fees.
A national speaker’s bureau will divvy up the money between Snowden and Suskind.
Snowden told the crowd he plans to donate some of the proceeds to the Freedom of the Press foundation.
‘’I want to make sure journalists are able to operate,” Snowden said.
This was somewhat ironic, given that reporters were not allowed to record the remarks via audio or video.
Still photos were only allowed for the first 10 minutes of the event.
“The First Amendment is first for a reason, and if the government is hiding from the press, it is the government that is wrong,” Snowden said.
Snowden is wanted in the U.S. on several charges, including unauthorized communication of national defense information.
He told the crowd Tuesday that the disclosures he made three years ago have not resulted in anyone being harmed or killed.
Snowden also said there is a difference between legality and morality, and that it was never about him. Instead, he claims it was about the public.
“I did not set out to change American society,” Snowden said. “I set out to let the public have the information that they always should have.”
Students 9NEWS spoke to after Snowden’s remarks largely appreciated what he had to say.
“Our privacy is something we should value,” one student said.
Snowden said he wants to return to the U.S., and that he could live with going to prison.
(© 2016 KUSA)