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Edward Snowden's NFT Artwork Sells in Online Auction For Over 5.4 Million Dollars

File photo of Edward Snowden

File photo of Edward Snowden

The artwork titled 'Stay Free' combines the entirety of a landmark US court decision ruling the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance violated the law, with the iconic portrait of the whistleblower.

NFTs are the future, and absolutely everyone seems to be joining in on the rush. An NFT (non-fungible token) artwork by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been sold for more than $5.4 million. The artwork titled “Stay Free" combines the entirety of a landmark US court decision ruling the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance violated the law, with the iconic portrait of the whistleblower. The funds will benefit the Freedom of the Press Foundation, where Snowden is the president.

Snowden isn’t an exception, the entire world seems to be in the NFT race at the moment - After art and auction houses, (and billionaires) news organizations and galleries also seem to be joining in on the trend. Quartz has converted an article into an NFT, a digital asset that essentially serves as its own certificate of ownership and authenticity. They’re, however, not the first. Associated Press sold its non-fungible token artwork on March 11 for a hefty sum only eight days putting it up for auction. The artwork, titled “The Associated Press calls the 2020 Presidential Election on Blockchain – A View from Outer Space,” sold for roughly 100 ETH (+3.79%) ($180,000), according to data from NFT marketplace OpenSea. News organizations aren’t alone.

“FIVE POINT FIVE MILLION from @PleasrDAO. It feels like the whole staff of @FreedomOfPress is watching live, and we’ve never seen anything like this. This is more than a spectacle," Snowden tweeted.

“Emerging applications of cryptography can play an important role in supporting our rights. This auction will drive the development of valuable and privacy-protecting uses of encryption, to safeguard press freedom and serve the public," he added.

In 2013, Snowden leaked information on US intelligence’s methods of electronic surveillance, including illegally eavesdropping on foreign leaders.

Fleeing punitive consequences from US federal authorities, Snowden sent requests for asylum to some countries, including Russia.

On August 1, 2014, he received a Russian residence permit valid for three years, which was later extended for another three years.

In the US, Snowden faces two counts of violating the Espionage Act.

He may risk up to 10 years in prison on each of the counts.

The US authorities have repeatedly stated that they consider Snowden to have caused grave damage to national security.

“We have a winner, internet friends. I want to extend a very special thanks to everyone who followed this over the last 24 hours, and the deepest gratitude from EVERYONE at our @FreedomofPress to those who bid on our charity event. You help us make a better world. Stay free!," Snowden said in a tweet.

NFTs allow people to buy and sell ownership of unique digital items and keep track of who owns them using the Blockchain. NFT stands for “non-fungible token," and it can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, artwork, tweets, animated GIFs, songs or even video games.

(With inputs from IANS)

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first published:April 18, 2021, 08:51 IST