NEW: "Would I do it again? Absolutely," Edward Snowden says of leaking documents
"We need a watchdog that watches Congress," the NSA leaker says from Russia
"There's a political response that needs to occur," but also "a tech response"
He speaks via teleconference to SXSW tech conference in Texas
In a rare public talk via the Web, fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden urged a tech conference audience Monday to help “fix” the U.S. government’s surveillance of its citizens.
He spoke via teleconference from Russia to an audience of thousands at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin. The event marked the first time the former National Security Agency contractor has directly addressed people in the United States since he fled the country with thousands of secret documents last June.
In response to a question, Snowden said he had no regrets about his decision to leak the NSA documents, which showed the intelligence agency has conducted secret monitoring of Americans’ phone and Internet behavior in the name of national security.
“Would I do it again? Absolutely. Regardless of what happens to me, this is something we had a right to,” he said.
“I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. And I saw the Constitution was being violated on a massive scale,” he added, to applause from the 3,000 people in the auditorium at the Austin Convention Center.
“South by Southwest and the tech community, the people in the room in Austin, they’re the folks who can fix this,” Snowden said earlier. “There’s a political response that needs to occur, but there’s also a tech response that needs to occur.”
He appeared on video screens with a copy of the U.S. Constitution as a backdrop. The live stream was slow, repeatedly freezing Snowden’s image onscreen.
The pair of American Civil Liberties Union lawyers who hosted the discussio