National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will speak directly to Britain in a televised Christmas message, stressing the importance of privacy and urging an end to government surveillance.
Snowden will be delivering the annual "Alternative Christmas Message" on Wednesday (local time) for Britain's Channel 4, in a slot typically reserved for provocative or offbeat addresses.
The television channel said today that the prerecorded message would be Snowden's first television broadcast since he arrived in Moscow, where he has been granted temporary asylum following his exposure of the NSA's secret domestic surveillance apparatus. Snowden's revelations have prompted a global debate over the limits of surveillance and the value of privacy.
Snowden will set out why he believes mass surveillance by governments is wrong and note the importance of the debate his disclosures have ignited.
"The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it," he says, according to excerpts from the message released by Channel 4. "Together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel asking is always cheaper than spying."
He calls modern surveillance more invasive than envisioned by "1984" author George Orwell, saying that children today will grow up without knowing what it means to have an unrecorded or private moment.
"That's a problem because privacy matters, privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be," he says.
The queen delivers Britain's "Royal Christmas Message," but Channel 4 has used its parody version to give a platform to people as diverse as Iran's then-President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in 2008, and fictional characters including Ali G. and Marge Simpson in 1999 and 2004 respectively.
The message will be broadcast on Channel 4 on Wednesday afternoon (local time), hot on the heels of a newspaper interview in which Snowden declared his "mission's already accomplished" after leaking the NSA secrets.
He told The Washington Post in an interview published online Monday night that he was satisfied because journalists have been able to tell the story of the government's collection of bulk Internet and phone records, an activity that has grown dramatically in the decade since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.