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Edward Snowden set for video ‘appearance’ at South By Southwest festival

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AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Former security contractor Edward Snowden, facing arrest if he steps foot on U.S. soil, will participate remotely in a panel discussion next week in Texas about governmental intrusion into privacy, conference organizers said on Tuesday.

Snowden, who is in Russia, will answer questions via video conference at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin on Monday on how the U.S. National Security Agency uses technology to keep tabs on people.

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“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,” the organizers said.

Snowden fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he currently has asylum. The White House wants him returned to the United States for prosecution.

Last year, Snowden, who had been working at an NSA facility as an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, leaked a raft of secret documents that revealed a vast U.S. government system to monitor phone and internet data.

The leaks deeply embarrassed the Obama administration, which in January banned U.S. eavesdropping on the leaders of close friends and allies and began reining in the sweeping collection of Americans’ phone data in a series of limited reforms triggered by Snowden’s revelations.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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‘We followed the president’s orders’: Sondland leaves no wiggle room for Trump’s direct involvement in Ukraine scandal

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European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland will leave no wiggle room for President Donald Trump to deny his direct involvement in the Ukraine scandal in his bombshell opening statement.

As reported by the Daily Beast, Sondland will testify that he followed President Donald Trump's orders to work with personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on dealing with Ukraine, despite the fact that he was personally reluctant to do so.

"Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States," the statement says. "We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President’s orders."

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Sondland directly implicates Trump and Giuliani in ‘quid pro quo’ in bombshell opening statement

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European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland is directly implicating both President Donald Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani in running a "quid pro quo" scheme to condition a face-to-face meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on launching an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Daily Beast has obtained excerpts of Sondland's opening statement that show the EU ambassador will make clear in his testimony on Wednesday that Giuliani wanted a quid pro quo with Ukraine -- and that he was pushing for it with Trump's encouragement.

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Fox News host appears confused how phone calls work while doubting impeachment witnesses

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On Tuesday's edition of "Fox & Friends," co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned the impeachment testimony of State Department aide David Holmes — and in the process, revealed his confusion about how telephone calls work.

"Now the big thing is, something that's not addressed, nobody else has seen, and no one's really questioned, is that when David Holmes came out and said, I was hanging out in a restaurant, having a bottle of wine, and I listened over, and there's the E.U. ambassador talking to what I think's the president," said Kilmeade. "Amazingly, he heard both sides of the phone call, and at which time Sondland said to the president that Zelensky 'loves your [ass]' ... Now we have not seen Sondland say that's true or not true, and I also find it hard to believe that people just accept that you can hear both sides of a phone call 3,000 or 5,000 miles away. I've never heard both sides of a phone call when you have it to your ear!"

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