AUSTRALIAN attorney general George Brandis is not a fan of US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden and has called him "a traitor".
Brandis has spoken about the importance of surveillance, how grand the Five Eyes system is, and how wrong he thinks it is for anyone to want to preserve privacy.
He was speaking in front of a Washington think tank and we do not know what it thought about his speech, but anti-Snowden rants curry favour in authoritarian circles. The Guardian reported his views about the damage done down under.
"Snowden is not a genuine whistleblower. Nor, despite the best efforts of some of the gullible self-loathing left, or the anarcho-libertarian right, to romanticise him, is he any kind of folk hero," he said.
"He is a traitor. He is a traitor because, by a cold-blooded and calculated act, he attacked your country by significantly damaging its capacity to defend itself from its enemies, and in doing so, he put your citizens' lives at risk - and, in the course of doing so, he also compromised the national security of America's closest allies, including Australia's."
The Australian relationship with the US is of course a strong one, and presumably Brandis is worried that Snowden, who appears to have a lot of support most everywhere, will damage it.
Australia has already capitalised on Snowden's revelations and has used his cautionary advice as leverage towards plans for increased data retention. It appears that it might have taken his lessons the wrong way.
Snowden, meanwhile, would dispute being called a traitor, and just this week he told European parliamentarians that he has no interest in taking down governments.
He explained, "My motivation is to improve government, not bring it down." µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ