Whitleblower's author and literary stars draw crowds

22:19, Aug 29 2014
Eleanor Catton
SHARING STORIES: New Zealand author Eleanor Catton with fellow authors Damon Young, Australia, left, and Anis Mojgani, United States, at last night’s Q&A session.

Book lovers and political junkies savoured an evening with fiction and non-fiction writers from New Zealand and overseas at Word Christchurch events last night, with several events sold out. 

Guardian journalist Luke Harding gave a first-hand insight into the shady world of spies and spy hackers at a question-and-answer event with journalist Toby Manhire.

Later, at the Cardboard Cathedral, seven writers, including Eleanor Catton, shared from their works on the theme of lights and brightness.

Edward Snowden, who leaked thousands of high-security documents from the National Security Agency, is the subject of Harding's latest book The Snowden Files.

Harding said an award of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service to the Guardian and The Washington Post for their exposure of the leaked material vindicated his work in exposing classified documents.

Asked by Manhire if New Zealanders should believe John Key's assurances about spying by the GSCB, he said he did not want to comment on domestic matters here, but after encouragement from the audience to speak his mind he declared they were "rubbish".

"All of your data is being collected."

Harding also spoke about his experiences in Russia. He was posted there from 2007 to 2011 as bureau chief before being expelled. He said his home was broken into and regularly bugged and videotaped by Russian security. After being expelled during his time as bureau chief in Moscow in 2011, he said he would not be visiting Snowden in Russia anytime soon.

Today, events at the festival include controversial author Nicky Hager talking about his headline-grabbing new book Dirty Politics. 

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