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German University To Award Edward Snowden Honorary Doctorate

Heralding him as the “Columbus of the Digital Age,” faculty at a German university have voted to award NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden an honorary doctorate.

The decision was reached Wednesday by the faculty of arts at the nearly 600-year-old University of Rostock. Twenty professors voted in favor of the honor, with one against and one abstention, reports the German newspaper Die Welt.

In making their decision, educators called the degree a symbolic and political act, citing Snowden’s “moral courage” and “substantial contribution to a new global discourse on freedom, democracy, and the rights of the individual in a globally networked digital world,” the paper reports.

Through his lawyers, Snowden has told Rostock scholars he will gladly accept the honor, and there are logistical plans in the works for him to receive it through some sort of unorthodox ceremony, since it is believed that he currently remains exiled in Russia.

The decision can be halted by the university’s rector, but it remains to be seen whether that will happen.

Wednesday’s vote was more than a half-year in the making, as the faculty had first voted to approve a resolution calling for the honor last fall.

In a four-page resolution, scholars praised Snowden as one of the “great examples of civil disobedience in the history of modern civil society,” alongside Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Snowden carries on the “very democratic tradition of civil disobedience,” the resolution states.

In June 2013, Snowden disclosed to the media massive amounts of information about National Security Agency programs that track and analyze Americans’ every move, including cell phone calls and locations, emails, personal Internet activity and social media posts.

Citing Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” the German scholars said for the democratic rule of law to work, civil disobedience remains a necessary function, and called Snowden’s decision to become a whistleblower “courageous.”

“The Snowden-NSA affair is not about … the interception of (personal data), but the ratio of protected privacy and state control,” the resolution states. “It’s about the tension between power and law. …. It’s about the relationship between democracy and totalitarianism.”

Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix. ( @JenniferKabbany )

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h/t: AP via Michael Savage 

IMAGE: Freedom of the Press Foundation YouTube Screenshot

About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. She previously worked as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for a decade in Southern California, and prior to that held editorial positions at The Weekly Standard, Washington Times and FrontPageMagazine. She is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship recipient and has contributed to National Review.

Add to the Discussion

  • jabusse

    Ram6, I couldn’t disagree more” Joe Stalin’s rule and use of government to oppress the people has many parallels with the Bush-Obama use of the government to harm us. Sometimes we need to look back to those who lived through Stalin to get our bearings, so I offer this quote:

    “In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
    ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

  • Jeffc

    A symbolic and political act….like awarding Obama the Nobel Peace prize without actually accomplishing anything other than being elected.

  • joeyblueyes


  • Chuck Drake

    Well hell, it’s Germany!! They elevated the the world’s most despicable villain to the highest position of leadership in the country. If I were Snowden, I would not find this to be much of an honor at all.