Culture

Snowden on Trump: 'A dark moment' but not the end

Addressing a crowd in the Netherlands, the former NSA contractor urges people to get political and address surveillance with tech.

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Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden poses for a photo during an interview in an undisclosed location in December 2013 in Moscow, Russia.

Barton Gellman, Getty Images

What does Edward Snowden think the future will look like with a President Donald Trump at the helm of the US National Security Agency?

"This is a dark moment in our nation's history, but it is not the end of history," said Snowden, the former NSA contractor who revealed widespread government surveillance, including the bulk collection of internet user information and phone records.

Speaking remotely from Russia to an event hosted by search engine company StartPage in Amsterdam, Snowden urged the audience to get involved in protecting online privacy. Snowden appears regularly at events via video conference. His lawyers recently launched a campaign asking President Barack Obama to pardon him of espionage and other criminal charges Snowden faces for taking and leaking NSA secrets.

"We have to be political," Snowden said. "You have to talk about these things."

Snowden pointed to 2008, when many believed President-elect Obama would pump the brakes on surveillance programs developed by the administration of President George W. Bush. Obama's efforts fell short, Snowden said, as he urged the crowd not to count on politicians to rein in government overreach.

"This will never be the work of politicians. This will only be the work of the people," he said. "We cannot hope for an Obama and we should not fear a Donald Trump -- rather, we should build it ourselves."

Snowden went on to encourage the young people watching to start working on technology that could "guarantee human rights," and not leave it up to governments check their own power.

Before noting that he enjoys his own role as an advocate for freedom from government surveillance, Snowden urged others to respond to the US election by getting involved in pro-privacy causes.

"A vote is a start," he said, "but it will never be enough."