Snowden says he'll vote in U.S. presidential election
NSA whistleblower waves off damning congressional report, says Americans 'deserve better'
Edward Snowden, in exile in Moscow after leaking U.S. National Security Agency documents, said Friday he intends to vote in the U.S. presidential election, but did not say which candidate he favours.
"I will be voting," Snowden said, speaking at a conference in Athens by video link from Moscow.
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"But as a privacy advocate, I think it's important for me … that there should never be an obligation for an individual to discuss their vote. And I won't be doing so with mine."
He added: "What I will say about the candidates is that I'm disappointed we're not hearing much about the constitution in this election cycle. We're not hearing very much about our rights."
The 33-year-old spoke ahead of the opening of the movie Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Snowden thanked human rights groups for their campaign to seek a pardon for him from U.S. President Barack Obama.
"I'm not actually asking for a pardon myself, because I think the whole point of our system and the foundation of our democracy is a system of checks and balances," he said. "But … I'm incredibly grateful and fortunate to be able to experience the support of the world's three leading human rights organizations."
A Republican-led bipartisan U.S. House intelligence committee on Thursday released a four-page summary of a report calling Snowden a "serial exaggerator and fabricator" who doesn't fit the profile of a whistleblower.
All of the committee members separately sent Obama a letter urging him not to pardon Snowden, who revealed the NSA's collection of millions' of Americans phone records. The committee's full, 36-page report is classified.
The summary claims Snowden lied about, among other things, his education and his reason for being absent from work while he was fleeing to Hong Kong. (He apparently told his supervisor he needed medical attention for epilepsy.)
Snowden responded to several of the committee's claims in a series of tweets, at one point questioning how it took "two years of investigation" to allege he "faked a sick day and have a GED?"
"The American people deserve better," he added.
After "two years of investigation," the government charges... I faked a sick day and have a GED? Did they not watch the Guardian interview?—@Snowden
The American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are behind the campaign to pardon him.
Kenneth Roth, HRW's executive director, was on the panel of the Athens conference and described the effort as "an uphill battle."
"What we're hoping is that after the election — when Obama is in his final months in office — at that stage he can begin to do some things that are appropriate as a matter of conscience but politically difficult," Roth told the AP.
"One of them we would be is to pardon Snowden," he said. "There's been broad recognition that Edward Snowden has done an enormous public service by disclosing the degree to which all of our privacy has been invaded needlessly."