Eight Days In a Hong Kong Hotel Room With Edward Snowden

Longreads

Profiling documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras for The New Yorker, George Packer writes of her latest film, “Citizenfour,” which tells the story of N.S.A. whistleblower Edward Snowden. Packer describes the documentary as a political thriller in three acts, with the second act chronicling Snowden’s time in Hong Kong. Over the course of eight days Poitras filmed Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room for twenty hours, and “the act proceeds chronologically through the eight days in the hotel room, taking up a full hour of the hundred-and-thirteen-minute film.”

We watch Snowden explain his background, his motivations, the nature and extent of N.S.A. eavesdropping, and his fears for the future. His control under immense pressure is unnerving. “I am more willing to risk imprisonment,” he says, “or any other negative outcome personally, than I am willing to risk the curtailment of my intellectual freedom and that of those around me, whom I…

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