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Whistleblower Edward Snowden to participate in University of Arizona panel

This photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency, June 9, 2013, in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras)

PHOENIX — Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden will take part in a University of Arizona’s panel discussion surrounding privacy on Friday.

Snowden, along with journalist Glenn Greenwald and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Noam Chomsky, will participate in the university’s “A Conversation on Privacy” panel.

The so-called whistleblower gained national notoriety after leaking thousands government surveillance documents to journalists — including Greenwald, who broke the story — in 2013.

The documents revealed shocking details about several classified surveillance programs used by the federal government.

David Cuillier, director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism, said the panel will discuss privacy and government surveillance regarding internet, cell phone and e-mail communications.

Snowden, who will be joining via video conference from Russia, where he is currently seeking asylum, is the best person to talk about these issues, Cuillier said.

“(Snowden) made decisions that some people praise and other people criticize,” he said. “You’re only going to be able to talk about this when you have people who are in the middle of it and he was.”

Cuillier said the topics of balancing national security and privacy are of importance to Arizona residents.

“There’s a lot of interest here in national security,” he said. “I think a lot of Arizonans don’t want government intruding on their lives. I think a lot of Arizonans want government to stay out of our business. That’s where this conversation gets really tricky and really interesting.”

The panel will begin at 5 p.m. in Tucson and can be watched live online here.

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