10 June 2013

A letter to Edward Snowden

Dear Ed Snowden
Given the amount written about you online already, I doubt that you will read this. But, if you do, I first want to thank you for what you have done for the world, and to express my admiration for your courage.
I am writing to you now, though, to encourage you to turn yourself in to the US authorities. Why?
You say in a recent article that you 'will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that [you] love are revealed even for an instant.'
But, by hiding from the law, you are only frustrating its potential for openness. By secreting yourself in a room in Hong Kong, you are seeking a special 'pardon' of a sort for yourself. This 'pardon', however, comes with no regard for law, even though, without test in any court of law, you claim (and I wish to agree) that you 'have done nothing wrong' – in the wider sense of right and wrong. By evading the American executive powers of which you are justifiably the critic, you reveal the limits of your own courage, you deny those powers the opportunity to show us if they are capable of true justice, and you deny yourself the opportunity to complete the job of being their critic.
For all of its imperfections and its abuses of power, the US is the country that raised you and gave you the extraordinary privilege of access to its secret information, and hence also made it possible for you to speak to the whole world today. The debt you owe your country cannot be repaid, and hence you have an obligation to front up to your country's powers now and let them process your case as they will. You should not run away now – least of all to be a burden on Iceland, nor even on China.
Your duty now is to appear before a US court and to argue your case: the case that you have done no wrong. Of course, you will probably be found to have breached the law, but you knew that at the outset. If you fail to persuade the courts of your innocence, you should follow the advice of Socrates and 'endure in silence whatever [your society] instructs you to endure'.
If you really believe in justice and openness, that's what you will do.
I wish you the best


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