Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak made a startling revelation voicing his support for National Security Agency (NSA) contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden at an interactive session held at Europe’s largest technology conference – Cebit 2014 – in Hannover in Germany.
“He is a hero to me, but he may be a traitor to other people and I understand the reasons for them to think that way. I believe that Snowden believed, like I do, that the US has a right to freedom. He had the guts to and courage to sacrifice his life for a principle,” said Wozniak, at an interactive session moderated by Brent Goff, main news anchor for Deutsche Welle here on Thursday.
Snowden is hiding in Russia as a fugitive from US law and charged with espionage for leaking documents related to the US surveillance.
Wozniak, a strong believer in freedom and the spirit of the Constitution, felt Snowden should be allowed to return to his country. “He has been vindicated and there have been illegal judgements and the NSA, and by the way, we have other three letter agencies like the CIA and FBI, and they are probably doing similar things. They cover up those loopholes, and they are in violation with our Constitution,” he said.
Wozniak’s expressed concerns over the long-drawn process of the judicial system and laws which are inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution. “A lot of politicians pass law after law that go against the Constitution and in court, when people like Snowden come up, they say that the government has acted according to the law. Ten years later, the Supreme Court says that those laws are unconstitutional. It’s a long, long process to get justice,” he added.
Wozniak recalled that he might have met Snowden briefly during his visit to Moscow some time back. “I was at an Apple museum and there were about 30 people with whom I was taking pictures. A guy came up to me and he looked like Snowden. After I took a picture, I told him that he could be mistaken for Snowden. He turned away and I never saw him after that.”
When asked if he was aware of a secret backdoor in Apple’s software that was rumoured to allow the NSA to encrypt iPhone data some two years back, Wozniak replied that he was no aware of such a development. “I can’t say that for sure. My first expectation is no they didn’t. Maybe it was done deliberately, maybe it was accidental, and I’m not going to guess it.”
But Wozniak assured the audience that Apple was doing everything in its stride to protect customers’ privacy. “I believe Apple is the purest of all of the companies, and it will strive to protect its customers’ data,” he added.