When Edward Snowden joined Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men for his first in-person public appearance on U.S. soil since receiving a Presidential pardon, the bi-partisan crowd went wild.
Following the Yes Men’s announcement of Edward Snowden’s pardon, the capacity crowd at the Los Angeles Convention Center burst into cheers and rushed the stage to get a picture with the former intelligence officer.
Unfortunately for everyone, Snowden hadn’t been pardoned at all, and our “Fauxden” on stage was a lookalike actor.
The real Edward Snowden appeared via video link from Russia and was interviewed by the Yes Men for 45 minutes.
Their extraordinary discussion touched on the surveillance state’s influence on free speech, how to stand up against eroding civil liberties and the wide, wild, terrifying variety of NSA programs that were originally crafted and designed for warfare, but are now used to spy on US citizens.
“The crowd’s reaction demonstrates what would happen if Snowden were honored instead of punished for what he did,” said Chris Paine, director of Who Killed the Electric Car? and Revenge of the Electric Car who was in attendance.
In fact, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for all European countries to drop criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender.
“Edward Snowden’s actions launched an extraordinary global debate and led to the most significant reforms in intelligence oversight in a generation,” said Ben Wizner of the ACLU. “He should be thanked, not charged with espionage and locked in a cage.”
THANK YOU to Edward Snowden, Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men for your creativity, ingenuity and humor, to Fauxden aka actor David Neale, and to Ben Wizner of the ACLU. And thank you to Politicon and FLOOD for making it all possible.
[Want to make meaningful mischief with the Yes Men? Yes, you do. Fortunately for us, they are sharing their knowledge with universities and institutions in a series of workshops and skillshares. Contact us here to bring them to your campus and community.]