Snowden 'overwhelmed' by public response

Snowden 'overwhelmed' by public response

Edward Snowden says he is “overwhelmed” by the public reaction to his disclosures about the government's mass surveillance programs.

“I was really worried ... that this would be a two day story, then everybody would forget about it and we’d move on.” he said during a video question and answer session hosted by the PEN American Center on Tuesday.

Snowden spoke to the event from Moscow, where he has been since fleeing the U.S. in 2013 after leaking classified information about the National Security Agency (NSA) collecting information on millions of Americans' phone calls.

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His disclosures led to a public outcry, which Snowden hailed, and Congress passing broad reforms to the NSA.

But he said that there was still need for vigilance and further reforms. He also warned against secrecy in national security programs, noting that the surveillance programs "were passed without meaningful debate at all."

The NSA program collected data on the phone numbers involved in calls and their duration but not the actual content of conversations. It is set to expire at the end of the month.

Under the reforms, the government must now obtain a warrant to access phone data that will be stored by private companies.

Critics say that Snowden endangered national security, but his supporters say he acted as a whistleblower and drew appropriate scrutiny to the government's programs.

Activists such as Snowden and PEN America Center have championed reforms and sought to increase protections for whistleblowers.

The event took place on the same day the group released a report outlining the risks that government contractors face when leaking classified information.