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Snowden SXSW speech: Lawmaker calls for livestream cancellation

A Kansas lawmaker has asked SXSW organisaers to cancel a video chat session with Edward Snowden, arguing that the conference should not give the former NSA contractor a platform.

"Mr. Snowden's appearance would stamp the imprimatur of your fine organisation on a man who ill deserves such accolades," Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Republican, wrote in a Friday letter.

Snowden, who is currently exiled in Russia, will appear remotely at the SXSW Interactive conference at 4pm GMT for a chat with Christopher Soghoian, the ACLU's principal technologist. The event will be live-streamed on the website of The Texas Tribune and the ACLU will also release a video of the session at a later date.

"The conversation will be focused on the impact of the NSA's spying efforts on the technology community, and the ways in which technology can help to protect us from mass surveillance," the session description reads. "Hear directly from Snowden about his beliefs on what the tech community can and must do to secure the private data of the billions of people who rely on the tools and services that we build."

Rep. Pompeo, however, urged organisers not to "reward" Snowden with the session and said hosting such an event "encourages the very lawlessness he exhibited."

"When I served in the Army along the Iron Curtain we had a word for a person who absconds with information and provides it to another nation: traitor," Pompeo wrote. "We also had a name for a person who chooses to reveal secrets he had personally promised to protect: common criminal. Mr. Snowden is both a traitor and a common criminal."

If the session proceeds, Pompeo suggested a few questions for Soghoian, including why Snowden opted to turn over the data to journalists rather than a member of Congress or the inspector general, and why he is not willing to face the consequences in the US.