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Edward Snowden to deliver UK's 'alternative' Christmas address

By CNN Staff
updated 9:31 AM EST, Wed December 25, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NSA leaker Edward Snowden to deliver Christmas message on British TV
  • Channel 4 has broadcast alternative to queen's traditional message since 1993
  • Snowden: "A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all."

(CNN) -- Edward Snowden will join the ranks of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali G and Marge Simpson when he delivers an "alternative" Christmas greeting to British television viewers Wednesday.

The National Security Agency leaker will urge listeners to rally against mass government surveillance when he gives Channel 4's annual Alternative Christmas Message, which follows Queen Elizabeth II's traditional Christmas broadcast.

"Together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying," Snowden will say in the Wednesday address, according to a transcript that Channel 4 released a day in advance.

Channel 4's alternative address tradition, begun in 1993, has included addresses from Ahmadinejad, then the Iranian president; Ali G, a character played by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen; an injured Afghan war veteran; and a survivor of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In 2004, the cartoon character Marge from "The Simpsons" gave the greeting.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor, is living in asylum in Russia after leaking U.S. surveillance secrets to the news media earlier this year. He is wanted in the United States on espionage charges.

In his address, Snowden will assert that the types of surveillance imagined in George Orwell's "1984" are "nothing compared to what we have available today."

"We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person," the transcript reads. "A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all."

"The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it," the transcript reads.

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