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'We Need' People Like Edward Snowden, U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Says

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U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a news conference Wednesday that Edward Snowden is a defender of human rights and should not be prosecuted.

“We owe a great deal to him for revealing this kind of information,” she said.

When asked specifically whether President Obama should pardon Snowden, Pillay acknowledged that he would first have to be convicted, but said, “I am raising right here some very important arguments that could be raised on his behalf so that these criminal proceedings are averted.”

Pillay’s office just released a report titled The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age, and she credits Snowden with initiating and informing a global debate on the subject.

The Guardian:

Mona Rishmawi, head of the rule of law branch of Pillay’s office, said: “In this particular case, the way we see the situation of Snowden is he really revealed information which is very, very important for human rights. We would like this to be taken into account in assessing his situation.”

All branches of government must be involved in the oversight of surveillance programmes, and completely independent civilian institutions must also monitor surveillance, Pillay says in her report. Checks on government must also be clearly understandable by the public.

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According to her bio, Pillay is from South Africa and began her legal career defending anti-apartheid activists.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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