Snowden’s revelations of massive state surveillance is of public interest, says top human rights official.
The UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, credited Snowden, a former US National Security Agency contractor, with starting a global debate that has led to calls for the curtailing of state powers to snoop on citizens online and store their data.
“Those who disclose human rights violations should be protected: we need them,” said Pillay.
The United States has filed espionage charges against Snowden, charging him with unauthorized communication of classified national defense information. He has sought asylum in Russia.
All branches of government must be involved in the oversight of surveillance programs, and completely independent civilian institutions must also monitor surveillance, Pillay says in her report. Checks on government must also be clearly understandable by the public. Any collection of communications data or metadata is potentially a breach of privacy.
An emergency data collection law being rushed through the British parliament may not address concerns raised by the European court of justice and is difficult to justify, Pillay said. Snowden should be seen as a hero to those who value American freedom.[More.](http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/16/edward-snowden-should-not-face-trial-un-human-rights-commissioner-navi-pillay)