NEW YORK, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Exiled National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden says he wishes citizen privacy was a bigger issue for U.S. presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
"If you want to stop the NSA from spying on you, the best way to do that right now, perhaps the only way you can do that, given the disparity of resources, is through the political process," Snowden said when he appeared via satellite from Russia on Wednesday night at a New York screening of Oliver Stone's new biopic, Snowden.
"[Privacy] is something that we're not hearing enough about in this campaign season right now. Nobody's talking about the Constitution. Nobody's talking about their rights. They're only calling each other names," he added. "We need to be talking about more issues of substance."
He also explained why people should care about being secretly surveilled by the U.S. government, even if they think they have "nothing to hide."
"I think we all have a duty, sort of collectively in society, to remember this, to think about when we are being manipulated. When we are being sort of directed to think a certain way and accept a certain argument reflexively, without actually tackling it," Snowden noted.
"The common argument that we have -- if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear -- the origins of that are, literally, Nazi propaganda. This is not to equate the actions of our current government to the Nazis, of course. But that is, literally, the origin of that quote. It is from their minister of propaganda. Joseph Goebbels. So, when we hear modern politicians, when we hear modern people repeating that reflexively, without confronting its origin, without confronting what it really says, I think that's harmful. And, if we actually think about it, it doesn't really make sense because privacy isn't about something to hide. Privacy is about something to protect. That's who you are. It's what you believe in. That's who you want to become. Privacy is the right to the self. Privacy is what gives you the ability to share with the world who you are on your own terms. ... If we don't have privacy, what we're losing is the ability to make mistakes. We're losing the ability to be ourselves. Privacy is the fountainhead of all other rights.
"Arguing that you don't care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like arguing that you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say."
Set to open Friday, the film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and chronicles how Snowden disclosed to a British newspaper documents showing U.S. government surveillance on American citizens. Snowden has acknowledged he broke federal law by stealing secret documents while employed as a contractor for the NSA, and this week said he is seeking a pardon from U.S. President Barack Obama.