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Edward Snowden delivers keynote speech for Manchester forum

Saturday, February 20, 2016 18:42
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Edward Snowden delivers keynote speech for Manchester forum – YouTube


The New Hampshire Liberty Forum drew hundreds of people to Manchester for a question-and-answer session with Edward Snowden.

Liberty Forum attendees weigh Edward Snowden’s actions

New Hampshire Sunday News

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden says fixing U.S. is his first duty

MANCHESTER — They started lining up 45 minutes early.

There were talks on parenting, bitcoin and internet privacy on tap at the New Hampshire Liberty Forum Saturday. But the big draw was a talk by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Javier Vega came to New Hampshire for the weekend gathering. He lives in El Paso, Texas, but he’s getting close to moving here as part of the Free State Project, which organized the event. “They’re actually doing something about liberty,” he said.

Vega, 44, called Snowden “a good guy,” even if he did something illegal, stealing secret government documents that exposed surveillance programs. “That was the only way he could have done it,” he said. “They wouldn’t have let any of that come out.”

Tony Jankowski grew up in Massachusetts, but moved here in the first wave of the Free State Project back in 2009. He grew up with a Republican dad and a Democratic mom, he said.

“I was kind of the black sheep in the family,” he said with a smile. “I turned into a libertarian.”

He lives in Tilton with his wife; they have a baby on the way. He was interested in hearing what Snowden had to say about Apple’s fight with the FBI over its encryption of its smartphone.

The debate about what Snowden did is often framed as a choice between seeing him as a patriot or a traitor. But Jankowski, 36, doesn’t think he’s either one.

“I think of a patriot as saving the country. He was trying to save people’s privacy,” he said.

But Snowden is not a traitor either, he said. “I’m not sure there’s a lot of information in there that really put people in harm’s way.”

Kathy Peterson grew up in Nashua and is a proud libertarian. In the Free State crowd, she’s called a “pre-stater,” someone who already lived here before the movement began.

She considers Snowden a hero. “He’s exposing illegal, per the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, activities by the federal government,” she said. “I feel he ought to be able to come home.”

“He’s a martyr,” Peterson said. “He gave up his whole life to save Americans’ freedom.”

She was sitting with Ellen Lynch and Eva Arsenault, who moved from Newport, R.I., to Weare a year ago. “We feel like we’re not oppressed here,” Arsenault said. “We’re treated like adults.”

“We make our own decisions and live life the way we feel it should be,” she said.

They just voted in their first presidential primary. “It’s like a circus but it’s a lot of fun,” said Lynch. “We feel our vote actually counted.”

After Snowden’s talk, the three friends said they were inspired. “He’s very brave,” said Lynch. “He stood up and did what we all need to do, and that is to hold our government accountable.”

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