Edward Snowden’s disclosure of United States intelligence agencies’ snooping on online conversations appear to have reached United Nation proportions yesterday as the U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon was reported to have said the fugitive ex-National Security Agency contractor “misused” his privilege to digital access.
The U.N. chief said the disclosure of NSA surveillance activities created problems that outweighed public benefit. His remarks that digital communications should not be opened and misused in such a way as Snowden did, came a few hours after the whistleblower formally requested the Icelandic government for asylum.
Snowden has been in hiding ever since he leaked to the media in June details of Prism, the U.S. government’s mass surveillance program. U.S. federal prosecutors charged Snowden with theft of government property and some officials had characterized his actions as an act of treason.
Snowden is currently seeking asylum in several countries. The U.N. claims to have its own internal process for protecting the rights of whistleblowers.
“When you speak up, we can correct situations and prevent problems early on,” a messaged from Ban appearing on the U.N. Web site reads. “Our organization will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who reports misconduct or participates in an audit or internal investigation.”
The U.N.’s ethics office came under fire last year for failing to protect the basic rights of a former employee who was sacked and detained by U.N. police after he reported about corruption in the U.N. mission in Kosovo.