Snowden to respond to Obama in online chat today

2:35 PM, Jan 23, 2014   |    comments
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Edward Snowden speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (The Guardian via Getty Images)

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose revelations about U.S. surveillance practices created a global storm, is holding a live chat on the website Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

Questions can be submitted on twitter using the #AskSnowden hashtag. Snowden's responses will appear at

The site's promotional link reports that Snowden "is expected to give his first reaction" to President Obama's national security speech issued a week ago.

Snowden, in his first such "chat" since June, may also address recent allegations from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., that Russia's intelligence service FSB may have helped Snowden steal and publish U.S. government secrets. Snowden already has dismissed the claim in an interview with The New Yorker, saying he "clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government."

Snowden was a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton when he leaked details of U.S. surveillance programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post. The first report was published in June, setting off an immediate firestorm. Snowden, who was in hiding in Hong Kong, fled to Moscow where he has obtained temporary asylum.

Obama, in his national security speech, said the NSA would continue to collect metadata on millions of Americans, but would first need a judge's approval. He also said the government might eventually turn the information over to a third party instead of storing it in NSA databases.

On Thursday, the government Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board urged Obama to shut down the bulk collection of telephone data and to purge current records. The board said it could not find "a single instance" where the program changed the outcome of a terrorism probe.

Obama also twice referenced Snowden during the address. He reiterated that the government would like to prosecute Snowden for divulging details of NSA activities. "I'm not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden's actions or his motivations," Obama said. "I will say that our nation's defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation's secrets."

Obama also mentioned Snowden in saying that the United States is not the only nation that spies on other nations -- even allies.

"We know that the intelligence services of other countries -- including some who feign surprise over the Snowden disclosures -- are constantly probing our government and private sector networks, and accelerating programs to listen to our conversations, and intercept our e-mails, and compromise our systems," Obama said. "We know that."

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