Congressman Asks SXSW to Cancel Snowden Speech

Friday, 07 Mar 2014 12:35 PM

By Courtney Coren

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National Security Agency secrets-leaker Edward Snowden is scheduled to address the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival, but Rep. Mike Pompeo wants the group to rescind the offer.

Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas who serves on the House Permanent Select Committee, sent a letter to planners of the event in Austin, Texas, saying he is "deeply troubled" by the news that the group has asked Snowden to give a speech Monday from a remote location in Russia by teleconference, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

"I strongly urge you to withdraw this invitation," Pompeo wrote, calling Snowden "a traitor and a common criminal."

Snowden is scheduled to appear with a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union at 11 a.m. Monday to discuss the NSA's surveillance programs.

"Rewarding Mr. Snowden's behavior in this way encourages the very lawlessness he exhibited," the Kansas Republican wrote to SXSW organizers.

"Such lawlessness — and the ongoing intentional distortion of truth that he and his media enablers have engaged in since the release of these documents — undermines the very fairness and freedom that SXSW and ACLU purport to foster."

The former NSA contractor leaked information about the agency's surveillance practices of both American citizens and allies. He has been charged by the U.S. government with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property.

"The majority of the material taken [by Snowden], now in the hands of other countries, provides detailed information about America's intelligence sources and methods," Pompeo wrote.

"Mr. Snowden has put the lives of our soldiers, sailors and airmen at risk — in addition to the lives of the people who will attend your conference," he added.

The Republican congressman has asked that if they don't rescind the invitation to Snowden, that attendees question the NSA leaker about why he revealed "purely military secrets" that had nothing to do with domestic surveillance activities and about his relationship with the Russian government, which has granted asylum to the former NSA contractor.

SXSW made no immediate comment on the letter.

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