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Snowden 'should be protected': web inventor

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Snowden 'should be protected': web inventor
Tim Berners-Lee. Photo: CERN
11:25 CET+01:00
Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and others like him play an essential role in exposing abuses and should be protected, not punished, the founder of the World Wide Web said in Geneva on Thursday.

"When checks and balances break down, all society can rely on are the whistleblowers," Tim Berners-Lee told reporters, in response to a question on Snowden, who is a fugitive because of the US intelligence files he leaked.
   
"And because they have been performing this important function of saving society when it is in its most desperate state, therefore we need, I think, to have a form of international recognition for whistleblowers," added Berners-Lee.
   
"I don't think an automatic Nobel prize is necessarily part of that, but some way of generating an amnesty," Berners-Lee explained, saying countries should band together to protect those whose leaks "really help humanity and not hurt humanity".
   
The files leaked by Snowden have exposed widespread spying by the US National Security Agency and the intelligence services of other countries including Britain, sparking a storm of protest.
   
Berners-Lee said that checks and balances in the United States and other countries had failed and that it would be "stupid" to think that reformed systems would be better.
   
"We must assume that those systems in the future will break down too," he said, noting that the importance of whistleblowers would be undiminished.
   
Berners-Lee conceived the Web almost 25 years ago in his spare time at Geneva-based CERN, Europe's top particle physics lab.

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