The Brian Lehrer Show

Newsmakers meet New Yorkers as host Brian Lehrer and his guests take on the issues dominating conversation in New York and around the world. This daily program from WNYC Studios cuts through the usual talk radio punditry and brings a smart, humane approach to the day's events and what matters most in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, On the Media, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy, and many others.


Edward Snowden Responds to Critics

This interview was recorded as part of RadioLoveFest, produced by WNYC and BAM. It's an excerpt from a long, live discussion held at BAM in Brooklyn on March 11, 2016, where Brian interviewed Edward Snowden and journalist/filmmaker Laura Poitras. Click here to listen to the full 90 minutes.

Edward Snowden has said that he would come back to the United States if he could face a fair trial, but so far the prospect seems unlikely.

"They said you cannot use a public interest defense. You cannot say the word whistle-blower," And as Snowden sees it this is the definition of unfair: "This of course is the fundamental basis of an unfair trial. If you can't present a defense it's not a trial. It's an extended booking process." 

But he did get one morsel of consolation: "When I asked I the government to guarantee that a public interest argument would be available, they responded with a letter that said I would not be tortured."

On March 11th, Brian interviewed filmmaker Laura Poitras and former intelligence officer Edward Snowden (via Google Hangouts) on the BAM stage for RadioLoveFest. In this excerpt Snowden responds to critics who claim he does not deserve clemency (or the title of whistle-blower) because he leaked not just domestic metadata programs, but instances of spying on on foreign governments and foreign individuals.

Snowden shook off the criticism with a stance of his own: 

"It's important that we elevate and primarily focus on the rights of American citizens, but it's also important that we don't forget, 95 percent of the world's population lives beyond our own borders. And they do have rights, too. And even though we may focus first on the rights of our own country, that does not mean that we should disregard the rights of everyone else."

And Edward Snowden looks toward the future: 

"I never chose to be in Russia and I would prefer to be in my own country, but if I can't make it home I will continue to work very much in the same way that I have [...] What happens to me is not as important, I simply serve as the mechanism of disclosure."

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 March 18, 2016  23m