The Citizenfour case


I have recently watch award-nominated documentary Citizenfour.

The documentary shows how journalists worked with Edward Snowden to get his story out while trying to protect him from the U.S. government.

Snowden used to work for the NSA and knew that the NSA was illegally collecting information on residents of the United States.

The NSA made deals with companies like Verizon to have access to any action made via an electronic device, infringing on fundamental right of individuals’ privacy.

Snowden contacted journalist Glenn Greenwald and film maker Laura Poitras to inform them of the scandal.

The three of them met in a hotel in Hong Kong for more safety.

By divulging such information, Snowden and his family became exposed to a major threat from the American government.

This is when the principle of protecting a source comes into place.

Greenwald started telling about the scandal on TV and through the Guardian without revealing Snowden’s name.

It was crutial that the American government didn’t find him before he could be somewhere safe.

Snowden didn’t want to hide but him and Greenwald had to find the right time unveil his identity.

Eventhough Greenwald knew Snowden wanted to go public, Greenwald kept his promise to wait until Snowden was ready to name his source.

I think the whole story was made of great ethical choices. Despite the consequences, Greenwald chose to inform the American population of what was going on in the governement.

The documentary made it clear that Greenwald made sure that Snowden was telling the truth by asking for proof.

And he protected his source as much as he could.


Photo credit: Mr.w00t, Taggad på facebook, Citizenfour. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.


2 thoughts on “The Citizenfour case

  1. I found this really interesting because I just recently watch the John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight episode where he interviewed Snowden in Russia. I haven’t personally seen this documentary yet but definitely agree that this situation was handled well in terms of securing and protecting their source as much as possible. It is extremely important to keep safe the person you are interviewing, I believe it is the best way to get the best answers because by certifying that you are not working against them but are working towards exposing the truth; they are more willing to cooperate towards that goal versus if they feel that there are too many risks involved in sharing their information, or they do not feel secure – they might back down and not be willing to share as much of the truth. In the segment on LWT, John Oliver brought up the issue with journalists misusing or making mistakes when revealing the information that Snowden had provided — more specifically, it was where NYT journalists had failed to block out proper information when posting a screenshot. Snowden had a pretty good response by saying that everyone makes mistakes, even journalists – because in the end, they are ordinary people and people make mistakes. I think intention counts a great deal, because the more you are trying to work on providing the truth in the most ethical way – you are striving to be better and do better, whether it be with revealing information or protecting a source. You have to do the best you can to try to maintain that honesty, and you have to strive to do the best you can.


  2. This is a case with an ethical issue at every turn, Audrey. One I found especially interesting: Snowden’s decision to leave it up to news organizations to decide which documents to publish, thus shifting some of the ethical burden to them to address the tension of revealing as much of the truth as possible and minimizing harm to a variety of stakeholders.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s