Speed Reads


Edward Snowden is now earning up to $25,000 a speech

Fugitive former NSA contractor/whistleblower Edward Snowden may be living in exile in Moscow, but he still gets around. In 2016 alone, he has spoken, via video chat, to audiences at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Comic-Con San Diego, a surveillance symposium in Tokyo, Denmark's huge Roskilde Festival, and two public U.S. universities. For the most part, he's not speaking pro bono, and thanks to an arrangement with an elite speakers bureau, he has pulled in more than $200,000 in fees over the past year, Michael Isikoff and Michael Kelley report at Yahoo News, citing "a source close to Snowden."

The speakers agency, American Program Bureau (APB), which also represents former President Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jon Stewart, started arranging Snowden's virtual appearances last September. "In my view, I think he has violated the oath that he made to this Constitution and this government," CIA Director John Brennan told Yahoo News. "Getting remuneration for it is very unfortunate and wrong."

Snowden's U.S. lawyer, Ben Wizner of the ACLU, disagrees. "There is nothing remotely improper about Edward Snowden making a living by speaking to global audiences about surveillance and democracy," he said. Snowden is paid up to $25,000 an appearance, Wizner said, but he's "not getting rich off public speaking," and "he will pay all taxes that he might owe," but only "in connection with a settlement of all the charges." Snowden also works for a Russian software firm, and you can read more about his income, his life in exile, and the delicate intricacies of how he gets paid at Yahoo News.