Jack Dorsey might be the busiest corporate executive in the world, what with running both Twitter and his digital commerce company Square. And somehow he’s finding the time for political work, too.
That includes conducting a much-publicized interview with Edward Snowden Tuesday afternoon, livestreamed from the @PardonSnowden Twitter account. Dorsey, who is estimated to be worth about $1.3 billion by Forbes, is the best-known American CEO to publicly call for the Obama administration to pardon Snowden for leaking details of the National Security Administration surveillance program to journalists three and a half years ago.
Snowden has been living in Russia to escape extradition since 2013.In the time since, he has become a vocal advocate for government transparency and anti-surveillance efforts. He also joined Twitter this year, and curiously chose to follow just one account: the NSA.
In their talk, Dorsey and Snowden covered a variety of topics, including whether Snowden thinks he’ll be handed over to the Trump administration by Vladimir Putin, and what he thinks about fake news and Facebook censorship.
“Will I be sent back to the U.S. and face a show trial and things like that? Is this gonna happen? I don’t know. Could it happen? Sure,” Snowden said. “Am I worried about it? Not really. I am very comfortable with the decision that I’ve made. I know I did the right thing. The institution of journalism believes I did the right thing.”
On fake news, Snowden said that he feels “critical thinking is more important now than ever,” and that it would be a mistake to lean heavily on censorship as a response.
“The problem with fake news isn’t solved by hoping for a referee. But rather because we as participants, as citizens, as users of these services [need to] help each other,” Snowden said. “We point out what is fake, we point out what is true — the answer to bad speech is not censorship, the answer is more speech.”
The chat between Dorsey and Snowden was part of a revived effort to get President Obama to pardon the NSA whistleblower before he leaves office next month, organized in part by the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. They are asking people to submit questions on Twitter with the hashtag #AskSnowden.
In September, Dorsey called for a full pardon of Snowden, along with group of prominent politicians and celebrities that included Bernie Sanders and former NSA chief Michael Hayden. Though Dorsey has avoided making direct political statements, he traveled to Ferguson, Missouri (Dorsey is a St. Louis native) after local police killed Michael Brown in the summer of 2013. He’s also appeared at public events with Black Lives Matter figures like Deray Mckesson, including one where he wore a t-shirt that said #StayWoke.
Under President Donald Trump, the thinking is that a pardon for Snowden, who has been living in Moscow since leaking NSA secrets in the summer of 2013, will likely never come.
In 2013, Trump told “Fox & Friends” that Snowden was a traitor who should be killed. This past summer, Trump said on the campaign trail that “Snowden is a spy who should be executed — but if … he could reveal Obama’s records, I might become a major fan.” Trump’s pick to head the CIA, Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo, has also called for Snowden to be executed.