Edward Snowden, the fugitive who gained infamy last year when he leaked detailed information to the press about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs, will join the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF).
According to an announcement posted on the Washington, D.C.-based organization’s website, Snowden will officially join the board in February. He will work with board members — two of whom are recipients of the leaks, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.
“We hope he’ll be able to contribute a lot in terms of knowledge of how sources interact with journalists and how reporters can better protect their sources in the age of mass surveillance,” said FPF Executive Director Trevor Timm via an email. “It’s a huge press freedom issue now, and no one has more experience in this regard than Edward Snowden.”
Due to security concerns, Timm could not confirm how Snowden – who is currently being granted temporary asylum in Russia – will participate in board meetings, though a published report in The New York Times stated he would use a video link.
For his part, Snowden said via a statement that it was “humbling” to be called to work on the board alongside individuals such as Daniel Ellsberg, the FPF co-founder who was responsible for leaking the Pentagon Papers during the height of the Vietnam War. “Journalism isn’t possible unless reporters and their sources can safely communicate, and where laws can’t protect that, technology can,” said Snowden. “This is a hard problem, but not an unsolvable one, and I look forward to using my experience to help find a solution.”
Snowden’s inclusion on FPF’s board comes at a time when the organization is raising money and awareness for a variety of open-source encryption tools for journalists, along with helping media organizations install SecureDrop, a whistleblower submission system. According to Timm, that campaign has raised $50,000 so far.
While regarded as a hero by some for bringing to light previously secret NSA surveillance programs, some have labeled Snowden as a traitor for exposing tactics that are said to have helped stopped terrorist attacks. Just this week, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said that Snowden is “no patriot” and that his actions were “real acts of betrayal” that were “likely to have lethal consequences for our troops in the field.”
Since it was founded in 2012, FPF has raised nearly $500,000 for such news organizations as WikiLeaks, MuckRock, National Security Archive, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and Center for Public Integrity.