Musicians and actors ranging from Russell Brand to Susan Sarandon expressed solidarity Monday with Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor whose leaking of sensitive documents last year led the U.S. government to charge him with three felonies.
Snowden is still in Russia and still facing Espionage Act charges, which is why the artists have issued a statement supporting Snowden. Some have also encouraged donations to the nonprofit Courage Foundation, Snowden's legal defense fund.
"We stand in support of those fearless whistleblowers and publishers who risk their lives and careers to stand up for truth and justice," the artists write in the statement, released Monday. "Thanks to the courage of sources like Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond, and Edward Snowden, the public can finally see for themselves the war crimes, corruption, mass surveillance, and abuses of power of the U.S. government and other governments around the world."
Other celebrities advocating on behalf of Snowden include Vivienne Westwood, Peter Sarsgaard, M.I.A., Thurston Moore, David Berman, Alfonso Cuaròn and Viggo Mortensen. Money raised by the fund, administered by the Courage Foundation, will also go to support the defense of Hammond, a convicted hacker associated with the group Anonymous.
“As Albert Camus once put it, governments, by definition, do not have consciences; they have policies and nothing more. Therefore, it is up to all of us as free-thinking citizens to demand truly transparent democracy and high, unbiased moral standards from those who govern us,” said Mortensen in Monday's statement. “I hope everyone can chip in to support Snowden and those patriotic whistleblowers that come after him.”
Russia recently extended Snowden's asylum for another three years, giving him until at least 2017 to find some solution to his legal troubles. Snowden's supporters hope either that another nation, like Germany, will grant him asylum, or that President Barack Obama will grant him a pardon.
The artists' statement arrives just days after a new documentary about Snowden, "Citizenfour," entered expanded theatrical release in the U.S. The movie, directed by the journalist Laura Poitras, revealed that Snowden's girlfriend recently moved to Russia to live with him there.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that all of the artists in Monday's statement had explicitly called for financial contributions to be made to Snowden's legal defense fund. In fact, many of the artists only expressed their general solidarity with Snowden.