• Snowden and Venezuela: My bizarre experience in the surveillance state

    Edward Snowden is heading to Venezuela? Seriously?

    The Venezuelan government's offer of "humanitarian asylum" to Edward Snowden rang hollow to most Venezuelans, who are by now used to the government spying on opposition leaders, journalists and even their own loyalists. Not only does the government routinely record their phone conversations, it broadcasts them on government-owned TV channels.

    The news that the NSA leaker has been offered asylum in Venezuela seems especially ironic to my mother and me. A few years ago, we had the bizarre experience of hearing one of our private phone calls aired on Venezuelan TV. It was played over and over again and "analyzed" by pro-government talk show host Mario Silva—a man who is now in disgrace himself because, in a weird twist of fate, a recording of him was leaked and broadcast on TV.

    What was most surreal about our experience was that there was no excuse or justification for taping our phone conversation. None was needed. The government just had it.

    It would be nice for Snowden, who cherishes privacy and freedom of speech so much, to be aware that in Venezuela one cannot have any expectation of either.

    (more…)