Edward Snowden: “Two Years On, The Difference Is Profound”

By Edward Snowden, director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and former Central Intelligence Agency officer and National Security Agency contractor

TWO years ago today, three journalists and I worked nervously in a Hong Kong hotel room, waiting to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been making records of nearly every phone call in the United States. In the days that followed, those journalists and others published documents revealing that democratic governments had been monitoring the private activities of ordinary citizens who had done nothing wrong.

Within days, the United States government responded by bringing charges against me under World War I-era espionage laws. The journalists were advised by lawyers that they risked arrest or subpoena if they returned to the United States. Politicians raced to condemn our efforts as un-American, even treasonous.

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Will the Garland Shooting Show Us An America We Can Believe In?

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Scale model of the statue of Liberty, in Paris, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Photo Credit: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

When I heard about the shooting in Garland, Texas, my first thought was: Is my family safe?

I grew up in a town near Garland, and much of my family still lives there. I didn’t know who had been shot at or why, but I wanted to know if my loved ones were okay. They were.

My second thought was less urgent: it was just a nostalgia for my hometown in Texas. Its treeless freeways and strip shopping malls were bland. But the people where I grew up were kind and inviting – even the teenagers, and even when it came to people like me.

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Tech and Human Rights: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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As someone whose job it is to take advantage of technological progress for human rights research and advocacy, I am a strong proponent of using new tools and methods to advance Amnesty International’s goals. There is a proven track record of how technology can help human rights researchers and defenders in their daily work. However, any debate on this topic should not overlook the increasing challenges and threats that new technologies and digital networks pose for our profession. I am increasingly interested in exploring this undeniable tension, and I am fortunate enough to moderate a panel related to this topic Amnesty International USA’s Annual General Meeting in Brooklyn this weekend (full details below). SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

#UnfollowMe: 5 Reasons We Should All Be Concerned About Government Surveillance

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By Erin Herro, Volunteer Fellow at AIUSA’s Security With Human Rights Program

Today Amnesty International launched #UnfollowMe – a campaign demanding an end to mass surveillance. And we released the results of a global poll of more than 13,000 people across every continent.

What’d we find? More than 70% of respondents worldwide are strongly opposed to the U.S. government monitoring their internet use. And in the United States, less than a quarter of U.S. citizens approve of their government spying on them. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

8 Facts You Need to Know: Why We’re Suing to Stop Surveillance – and Protect Human Rights

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The U.S. surveillance machine is thwarting Amnesty International USA’s ability to protect people from human rights violations: including governments that torture, kidnap and extrajudiciallly kill people for their non-violent protest, dissent and activism.

That’s why Amnesty International USA is in court today, represented by the ACLU–because in a world under threat of constant, all-encompassing surveillance, our work to protect human rights is made much harder.

Here are 8 facts you need to know about how Amnesty International works – and why mass surveillance harms our ability to protect human rights: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

9 Eye-Opening Facts about the State of Human Rights Worldwide

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In 2014, Amnesty International recorded and investigated human rights abuses in 160 countries and territories worldwide*.

While progress is being made in some areas, the frightening facts and figures below show that for many people the human rights situation is getting worse. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

3 Must-Watch Videos, 13 Lost Years: Shaker’s Story

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There’s a superstitious part of me, and a worried part of me. And both parts of me fear this Saturday: it marks thirteen years since Shaker Aamer was airlifted to Guantanamo.

My fear is that in Congress, the fear-mongers who are seemingly relentless in their drive to keep Guantanamo open forever—and to keep Shaker Aamer in detention without charge until he dies. They are encouraging public panic and anxiety over the prospect that anyone at Guantanamo might either go free or face a fair trial.

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Guantanamo Forever: 28 Words of Hate

Activists protest the 10th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention, Washington DC, USA, 11 January 2012.

“As far as I’m concerned every last one of them can rot in Hell, but as long as they don’t do that they can rot in Guantanamo Bay.” – U.S. Senator Tom Cotton

I don’t know if it was just me, or if it was everyone, but the room seemed oddly quiet after Senator Cotton said these 28 words at today’s Senate hearing on Guantanamo. Behind me were dozens of high school students, there for some kind of civics lesson. In front of me were protestors in orange jumpsuits, seated and rapt. For the moment, we were all quiet.

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How Did the State of the Union Stack Up On Human Rights?

Obama Travels To Connecticut To Advocate Passing Of Stricter Gun Laws

During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Obama touched on issues of national security, criminal justice reform, immigration policy and women’s health, all of which involve human rights.

It is important to promote awareness of these issues as part of the US national conversation. But as always, the proof is in the pudding. So how do President Obama’s words stack up against actions?

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