During a speech delivered via video to the Oxford Union Society, government whistleblower Edward Snowden congratulated Chelsea Manning on winning the Sam Adams Award for Integrity and Intelligence.
In his speech, Snowden called Manning's actions an "extraordinary act of public service" at "an unbelievable personal cost." According to Time, Snowden also went on to call out governments for withholding information to the public:
"I'm going to comment general on an issue that she raised to public prominence, that's very important but less well acknowledged," said Snowden, himself a former recipient of the award. "That issue is over-classification." Snowden used the occasion to warn of what he described as a government growing so secretive as to imperil American democracy.
"In the last year the White House told us that 95 million records have been created classified and withheld from the public in the year 2012. That's more than any other year on record and shows a trend where the government is withholding more secrets than ever," he said. Snowden called for people to push governments around the world toward greater openness.
"It's this self correcting, self determining form of unapologetically American government in which Chelsea Manning so valuably participated," he said.
The Sam Adams Award for Integrity and Intelligence was awarded to Manning in January by the Oxford Union Society "for casting much-needed daylight on the true toll and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq; human rights abuses by U.S. and "coalition" forces, mercenaries, and contractors; and the roles that spying and bribery play in international diplomacy." Snowden was the recipient of the award in 2013.
Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, is currently serving a 35-year sentence for leaking information to the WikiLeaks website.