NSA leaker Edward Snowden praised Sen. Rand Paul’s anti-Patriot Act filibuster from Moscow, where the former contractor fled by way of Hong Kong in 2013 with a trove of America’s national security secrets.
Paul mounted a 10-hour filibuster on the Senate floor Wednesday to protest the extension of the Patriot Act, calling it "the most un-patriotic of acts." The law, passed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, allows the government to conduct a range of surveillance activities intended to prevent terrorist activity.
During a Reddit AMA on Thursday, Snowden said Paul’s filibuster "represents a sea change from a few years ago," Bloomberg reported:
"It represents a sea change from a few years ago, when intrusive new surveillance laws were passed without any kind of meaningful opposition or debate," Snowden wrote. "Whatever you think about Rand Paul or his politics, it’s important to remember that when he took the floor to say ‘No’ to any length of reauthorization of the Patriot Act, he was speaking for the majority of Americans–more than 60% of whom want to see this kind of mass surveillance reformed or ended. He was joined by several other senators who disagree with the Senate Majority leader’s efforts to sneak through a reauthorization of what courts just weeks ago declared was a comprehensively unlawful program, and if you notice that yours did not take to the floor with him, you should call them right now (1-920-END-4-215) and ask them to vote against any extension of the Patriot Act, because the final vote is being forced during the dark of a holiday weekend to shield them from criticism."
Snowden was responsible for the largest NSA leak of all time, releasing documents related to the agency’s metadata collection and surveillance. He fled the United States with a stash of other classified materials and has been living in Russia for nearly two years.
Paul has defended Snowden, calling him a "civil disobedient" and evoking Martin Luther King, Jr., and Henry David Thoreau. He has also recommended leniency if Snowden decides to return to the United States and faces trial.