"Last Week Tonight" Host John Oliver Interviews Edward Snowden: "The Only Time You Can Be Free From Risk Is In Prison"


Snowden arrives at minute 16, but the first half of the show is also worth watching.

JOHN OLIVER: No one cares. [Americans] don't give a shit.

ED SNOWDEN: But we spied on UNICEF -- the U.N. Children's Fund.

JOHN OLIVER: Sure. What was UNICEF doing? I mean that's the question there, isn't it.

ED SNOWDEN: The question is are these programs valuable. Are we going to be safer when we are spying on UNICEF and lawyers who are talking about the price of shrimp and clove cigarettes.

JOHN OLIVER: I don't think people will say that is good, I think they will say, "I definitely do not care." Americans do not give a shit about foreign surveillance.

ED SNOWDEN: I think you're right...


JOHN OLIVER: How many of the documents have you actually read?

ED SNOWDEN: I read all of the documents that are in the archive.

JOHN OLIVER: Every single one?

ED SNOWDEN: Well, I do understand what I turned over.

JOHN OLIVER: There is a difference between understanding what is in the documents and reading the documents.

ED SNOWDEN: I recognize the concern.

JOHN OLIVER: Because when handing over thousands of NSA documents, the last thing you want to do is read them.

ED SNOWDEN: I think it is fair to say "did this person do enough, were they careful enough."

JOHN OLIVER: Especially when you're handling material like we know you're handling.

ED SNOWDEN: In my defense, I'm not handling anything anymore. It has been passed to the journalists. They're using extraordinary security measures to make sure this is reported in the most responsible way... they understand, just like you and I do, how important it is to get this right.

JOHN OLIVER: So the New York Times took a slide, didn't redact it properly, and in the end it was possible for people to see that something was being used in Mosul on al-Qaeda.

ED SNOWDEN: Well, that is a problem.

JOHN OLIVER: That is a fuck up.

ED SNOWDEN: Yes, that is a fuck up. And these things do happen in reporting. In journalism, we have to accept that some mistakes will be made. This is a fundamental concept of liberty.

JOHN OLIVER: Right. But you have to own that. You're giving documents with information you know could be harmful, which could get out there.

ED SNOWDEN: Yes. If people act in bad faith--

JOHN OLIVER: We're not even talking about that. We're talking about incompetence.

ED SNOWDEN: We are, but you will never be completely free from risk, if you are free. The only time you can be free from risk is when you are prison.

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