Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower who leaked classified information on numerous US secret surveillance programs back in 2013, will speak at an event organized by Tel-Aviv-based strategic, corporate, tech and financial communications firm OH! Orenstein Hoshen on November 6.
Snowden is expected to speak on a number of Israel-related issues and have a question and answer session with the audience. Ram Ben-Barak, the former deputy chief of Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad, will reportedly respond to Snowden's remarks, according to the Jerusalem Post.
"Our firm is engaged in advising clients… in the realm of economics, law, technology and high-tech — and these are exactly the fields in which Snowden is involved. Snowden is a fascinating figure because his actions are so controversial…. The audience will hear what he has to say, can ask tough questions and people can work out their own opinions," Hedan Orenstein and Itamar Hoshen of OH! announced.
"Snowden's actions have aroused intense arguments on the matter of whether the NSA's ultra-advanced surveillance programs are an illegal invasion of the privacy of tens of millions of US citizens, in contravention of the US Constitution, or a legitimate tool in the struggle against terror and homeland security. As we are currently concerned about difficult questions regarding privacy and security of our personal data, we do not know of many such important public debates or talks about the high price paid so far on the stand being taken," they added, according to Israeli news website Globes.
Snowden worked on the most secret projects of US intelligence organizations, being known as "genius among geniuses," Globes reports. During his last job, he was reportedly granted so-called PRIVAC, or "privileged access," which allowed him almost unlimited access to NSA data. Upon discovering the scale of the surveillance programs that had been set up under the pretext of fighting terrorism, he attempted to report constitutional violations to his supervisors, only to find that "nobody was prepared to risk their job, their family and perhaps even their freedom in order to undergo what was required of such a revelation," as Snowden said in a 2014 interview.
Following Snowden's revelations, it became clear that in 2009, the US spied on then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his chief of staff Yoni Korean, Ynet News reports.
Snowden faces espionage charges in the United States and may face life imprisonment or even capital punishment if ever tried on US soil. The political asylum he received from Russia is expected to expire in 2020 unless extended. He is already looking for a new country to provide him political asylum, Ynet reports.