NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been inaugurated as the Rector of the University of Glasgow after a sweeping win at a student vote. Over the next three years, Snowden will officially represent the university’s students – presumably via the internet.
Glasgow University’s splendid Bute Hall was packed Wednesday morning as the students hailed their new rector – the former NSA contractor and CIA employee Snowden.
Snowden, who lives in Russia under conditions of temporary asylum and is wanted on espionage charges in the US for leaking troves of classified documents on mass American surveillance, addressed the students via a live video chat, accepting his position.
“I would say it is a great honor to be part of this today… we are learning the public feel something different,” Snowden said, as quoted by Twitter channel of the university’s Students’ Representative Council (GUSRC).
Stressing that “human rights are not granted by governments but are inherent to our nature,” the whistleblower urged the audience to not merely believe in those principles, but also “to speak out.”
For the 30-year-old IT specialist and former security analyst, “speaking out” is not merely words as he repeatedly stressed he risked his life and freedom for starting a national dialogue on an intrusive government surveillance in the US.
In a strong showing of support for Snowden’s cause, over 3,300 students voted for him receiving the “influential” post in February. The nearest other candidate, the Episcopalian rector of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, Kevin Holdsworth, got 1,563 votes, while “The Flying Scotsman,” world racing cyclist champion Graeme Obree, got 1,412 votes.