For one morning, a statue of Edward Snowden, the former US intelligence contractor and whistleblower variously regarded as a dissident hero and national traitor, stood high atop a hill in New York City.
Hours later, the unauthorised sculpture was shrouded in plastic, removed by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department as the media and locals watched on, before being transported to the local police precinct.
But two of the artists behind the sculpture, who spoke to Fairfax Media on condition of anonymity, hope that its presence, however fleeting, will help spark conversation about Snowden, surveillance and the American ideals they say he was fighting for.
“We were both dismayed that Snowden and the ideals that his actions represent haven’t gotten more traction in mainstream media,” one of the artists said.
“It’s not just Snowden, it’s Bradley [now Chelsea] Manning and every other whistleblower whose fighting for the ideals this nation was founded upon. Snowden is an easy representation to use, so we used his visual.”
“This is one of the few times he’s been cast as a hero and his actions cast as heroic.”
Snowden became a divisive international figure in 2013 when he revealed the enormous surveillance capabilities of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and other surveillance programs, leaking classified information to journalists and sparking global debate about privacy and national security in the digital age. He fled to Russia soon after going public, and has been charged with espionage, slammed as a “coward” and “traitor” by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
SOURCE: Josephine Tovey
The Sydney Morning Herald