Edward Snowden and Whether or Not Whistleblowers Are Traitors or Heroes?

A whistleblower is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organization that is either private or public. Whistleblowers are often frowned upon within societies after they reveal the intel that they have collected on organizations or bodies of government. Later on, it becomes hard for them to assimilate within their society after they reveal the information that they have uncovered. It becomes difficult to find jobs, and in some cases they face serious legal repercussions for their actions. That was the case for U.S citizen Edward Snowden, who now resides in Russia seeking asylum after fleeing from the United States of America.

Snowden was born in North Carolina in 1983 and spent most of his life working as a computer professional. Edward Snowden eventually began working for the National Security Agency through subcontractor Booz Allen in the organization’s Oahu office. During his time there, Snowden “collected top-secret documents regarding NSA domestic surveillance practices that he found disturbing.” Snowden felt that it became his duty to inform the public of the domestic surveillance that he uncovered. Snowden then fled to Hong Kong, China and met with journalists from The Guardian and filmmaker Laura Poitras. Newspapers began printing the documents that Snowden had leaked, many of them detailing the monitoring of American citizens. Snowden turned himself into a polarizing figure as the U.S charged him with violations of the Espionage Act while many other groups called him a hero.

Although Snowden received support from various groups around the world, there were also a substantial amount of people that dubbed Snowden a traitor. Whistleblowers can sometimes bring about feelings of hatred, anger, and fear from some people. Much of these emotions are derived from a feeling of helplessness. Whistleblowers highlight areas of a government, corporation, or nation that are faulty or corrupted. The information they reveal destroys the very foundation of what people believe to be true. Our way of life, the constitution and rights set in stone hundreds of years ago are often proven to be disregarded by those in power.

Whistleblowers use the intel they have to take down financial fraud, abuse in institutions, and potential environmental disasters. They remove the curtain between the public and those in power. However, there are duties or codes that whistleblowers try to uphold. Snowden revealed that “there was information that I discovered that could have destroyed the very foundation of the United States of America, but I did not release that information because I do not wish to destroy the country’s foundation.” He did not want to destroy America and its government, he just wanted to inform the public on the fact that they were under surveillance.

Most people want to turn a blind eye to the corruption that surrounds them, and thus whistleblowers threaten that state of ignorance that they wish to live in. However, Snowden felt he had a duty as a citizen to uphold. He saw the ways in which the NSA was going against the rights of civilians, and deemed it crucial information that he had to share. Crucifying whistleblower’s is the equivalent to “shooting down the messenger”. Snowden and many other whistleblower’s often reveal the information they find because they can’t, and refuse, to turn a blind eye to the corruption they see. Snowden could not continue working at his job as if he did not discover anything. So he instead heroically placed himself in the crossfires to hold various corporations accountable for the injustices they were committing.

Author: Idil Dahir

Idil Dahir is a freelance writer and editor living in Toronto, Ontario. She is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto in which she completed a specialist program in English. Idil enjoys everything from Films, TV Shows, Sports, Novels, and Comic Books. She is currently working on her career in film and TV production as well as her freelance work. If you would like to contact Idil you can reach her at: idilmdahir@gmail.com