The PJ Tatler

'Snowden Could Not be Here Tonight for Some Treason'

Who knew Edward Snowden would, in a matter of speaking, take home an Oscar for leaking information from the NSA?

Citizenfour, the story of Snowden’s leaks, won best full-length documentary at the Oscars last night. Accepting the award were director Laura Poitras, journalist Glenn Greenwald, and Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills.

Snowden, who was granted three more years of residency in Russia last fall to protect him from U.S. prosectors, issued his reaction through the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing him and asking President Obama to grant full clemency.

“When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me,” Snowden said. “The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”

The executive director of the ACLU, Anthony Romero, said the film “helped fuel a global debate on the dangers of mass surveillance and excessive government secrecy.”

In her acceptance speech, Poitras said the “disclosures that Ed Snowden revealed don’t only expose a threat to privacy but to our democracy itself.”

As the winners were leaving the stage, Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris quipped, “The subject of Citizenfour, Edward Snowden, could not be here tonight for some treason.”

Greenwald, naturally, didn’t find the treason joke funny.

“I thought it was pretty pitiful, given Hollywood’s fondness for congratulating itself for doing things like standing up for McCarthyism and blacklists. So to just casually spew that sort of accusation against someone who’s not even charged with it, let alone convicted of it, I think is, you know, stupid and irresponsible,” the former Guardian reporter told Buzzfeed. “But I’m trying not to make too much out of it.”

Citizenfour debuts tonight on HBO.