WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Edward Snowden, who leaked information on the huge U.S. surveillance programs, will join the Freedom of the Press Foundation board, the organization said.
"I am proud and honored to welcome Edward Snowden to Freedom of the Press Foundation's board of directors. He is the quintessential American whistle-blower, and a personal hero of mine," said foundation co-founder Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers on the U.S. government's decision-making relative to the Vietnam War.
"Leaks are the lifeblood of the republic and, for the first time, the American public has been given the chance to debate democratically the NSA's [National Security Agency] mass surveillance programs," Ellsberg said in a release Tuesday. "Accountability journalism can't be done without the courageous acts exemplified by Snowden, and we need more like him."
The Freedom of the Press Foundation was founded in 2012 to support public-interest journalism dedicated to transparency and accountability.
Snowden, living in Russia after he was granted temporary asylum in August, said it was "tremendously humbling to be called to serve the cause of our free press, and it is the honor of a lifetime to do so alongside extraordinary Americans like Daniel Ellsberg on FPF's board of directors."
"The unconstitutional gathering of the communications records of everyone in America threatens our most basic rights, and the public should have a say in whether or not that continues," Snowden said. "Thanks to the work of our free press, today we do, and if the NSA won't answer to Congress, they'll have to answer to the newspapers, and ultimately, the people."
Snowden will officially join the board of directors in February 2014.