Sunday 11 December 2016

Let NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden return to US, urges Zachary Quinto

Published 10/09/2016 | 05:26

Zachary Quinto plays journalist Glenn Greenwald in Oliver Stone's new film Snowden (AP)
Zachary Quinto plays journalist Glenn Greenwald in Oliver Stone's new film Snowden (AP)

Actor Zachary Quinto has called for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be allowed to return to America without facing espionage charges.

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The Star Trek actor said Mr Snowden had acted with "great courage" and it was "absurd" to brand him a "treasonist" while he remains in exile in Russia.

Quinto plays journalist Glenn Greenwald in Oliver Stone's new film Snowden, which tells the story of how the former NSA analyst leaked details of mass government surveillance in 2013.

Speaking at the film's premiere in Toronto, Quinto - known for his role as Spock in the rebooted Star Trek films - told the Press Association: "I do think (Mr Snowden) should be able to come back (to America). I think it's a very complicated issue in terms of how that would happen.

"The idea of him being charged under the Espionage Act or branded as a treasonist is absurd. I think he is someone of great integrity and great courage.

"I think what he did is underestimated now, in a lot of ways, but I think will be looked back on with the magnitude it deserves.

"Hopefully he can enjoy some freedoms again in his life. He deserves that in my opinion."

Mr Snowden faces charges in the US under the Espionage Act that could land him in prison for up to 30 years. He has previously said he would return to America if he was guaranteed a fair trial.

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt said he was "honoured" to portray Mr Snowden in the film and he had a "valuable" four-hour meeting with the whistleblower in Moscow.

Speaking at the premiere, he said: "There were voices in my professional life who said, 'He's a controversial figure, you know this might not be the most commercially viable choice to make'. It's not how I made my decision.

"In reading up on him and really learning about what he did and why he did it, I felt grateful for what he did and honoured I got to play him.

"I don't think a single label is appropriate. Everyone tries to simplify this story. It's not simple, it's complicated.

"I would encourage anybody to look into it themselves rather than taking one quick soundbite or tweet and thinking you have an understanding of what's really happening."

Snowden is to be screened at the London Film Festival on October 15.

Director Oliver Stone said he hoped Mr Snowden would be pardoned by US president Barack Obama.

He told a press conference: "Mr Obama could pardon him and we hope so. We hope Mr Obama has a stroke of lightning and he sees the way, despite the fact he's prosecuted vigorously eight whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, which is an all-time record for American history.

"He's been one of the most efficient managers of this surveillance world. It is the most extensive, invasive surveillance state that has ever existed - he's created it, built it up, big money, rockets 200 miles in space, satellites that are peaking in as we speak - Hi Barack. So this is pretty serious but he's created this world."

Gordon-Levitt said Mr Snowden had told him during their meeting that he wanted to return to the US.

"I know he would love to come home," the actor told reporters. "I hope for that."

Stone described the NSA as a "secret underworld" and claimed the US government was acting illegally.

"The government lies about it all the time and what they're doing is illegal and they keep doing it. And it's gets better and better what they do," he said.

"As Ed Snowden said the other day - it's out of control. The world is really out of control. We don't know who is doing what."

Press Association

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