Whistleblower Edward Snowden is to deliver Channel 4’s annual Alternative Christmas Message on Christmas Day, the broadcaster has confirmed.
It will be the first television appearance by the computer analyst since he went on the run in May after leaking top-secret National Security Agency (NSA) documents exposing mass surveillance by the US government and its allies.
The interview was filmed by Laura Poitras in Moscow, and will be broadcast at 4:15pm on Christmas Day.
In the message, Snowden, whose passport was cancelled by US authorities, and who remains wanted by the Americans, will say: “Great Britain’s George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book – microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person.
“A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves an unrecorded, unanalysed thought. And that’s a problem because privacy matters, privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.”
He adds: “The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. Together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel asking is always cheaper than spying.”
Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4, Dorothy Byrne, said: “Edward Snowden’s decision to reveal the extent of surveillance programmes was one of the most significant news events of the year. The information which he has placed in the public domain raises serious questions for democratic society. This is an opportunity for our viewers to hear from him directly and judge for themselves what he has to say.“
Channel 4 has aired a provocative and challenging Alternative Christmas Message every year since 1993. Presenters have included The Simpsons, Ali G, President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Afghan war veteran Major Andrew Stockton, Quentin Crisp, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, and 9/11 survivor Genelle Guzman.