A UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN has asked the South by Southwest conference (SXSW) to reconsider inviting Edward Snowden speak at the event.
Republican representative from Kansas Mike Pompeo has issued a pleading letter to the organisers of SXSW in which he asks them not to support someone who sought asylum in "the Russia of Vladimir Putin".
"Certainly an organisation of your caliber can attract experts on these topics with knowledge superior to a man who was hired as a systems administrator and whose only apparent qualification is his willingness to steal from his own government and then flee to that beacon of First Amendment freedoms, the Russia of Vladimir Putin," he wrote.
"Mr. Snowden's appearance would stamp the imprimatur of your fine organization on a man who ill deserves such accolades. Rewarding Mr Snowden's behavior in this way encourages the very lawlessness he exhibited... I strongly urge you to withdraw this invitation."
Snowden is due to speak at the event in just a couple of hours and his appearance has the strong backing of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU will host an interview with Snowden appearing live on videolink.
Pompeo called Snowden "a traitor" and accused him of attention seeking and glory hunting. He added that "only a "tiny sliver of the materials stolen by Mr Snowden had anything to do with United States telecommunications or the privacy rights of Americans".
"The majority of the material taken, now in the hands of other countries, provides detailed information about America's intelligence sources and methods. By divulging this information, Mr Snowden has put the lives of our soldiers, sailors and airmen at risk - in addition to the lives of the people who will attend your conference," he added.
"Mr. Snowden's continued pursuit of the limelight has little to do with online privacy and everything to do with ensuring that he stays in the good graces of his new home nation. Once he stops doing interviews attacking America's ability to collect intelligence lawfully, he stops being useful to the Kremlin... Mr Snowden gives real whistleblowers a bad name."
SXSW organisers are apparently unmoved by the letter, and less than two hours before the talk is about to begin are tweeting links about it. µ