Snowden lawyer Ben Wizner (L) and director Oliver stone speak in ~ the Brooklyn public Library top top September 11, 2016.

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“Is the a true story?”

That to be a inquiry asked through Edward Snowden’s U.S. Lawyer, Ben Wizner, while pointing out Oliver Stone’s brand-new biopic, “Snowden,” in ~ the Brooklyn publicly Library top top Sunday. Rock answered that his film to be “as close to fact as possible,” and also Wizner pointed come Snowden’s own recent statement that the biopic is “as near to real as you deserve to get.”

But just like many rock movies that are based on real events, the director take it multiple liberties v the well-known facts. Below are five far-ranging inaccuracies in “Snowden.”

(Warning: spoilers ahead.)


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Snowden and the journalists he met in Hong Kong, as shown in “Snowden.” (Credit: open Road Films)

4) Hiding in Hong Kong and also finding asylum

The movie mirrors Snowden spending every one of his time in Hong Kong at the Mira Hotel and also then, after his surname becomes public on June 10, fleeing v his lawyer to the house of a bad family. He hides there till he board a trip to Moscow v WikiLeaks adviser buy it Harrison.

What walk film leaving out? The on-the-ground occupational by WikiLeaks to find Snowden asylum and also at the very least three trips the American fugitive made to the structure housing the Russian consulate in Hong Kong.

As Snowden uncovered a safe house in Hong Kong, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sent out his an individual assistant and girlfriend, buy it Harrison, to uncover Snowden asylum outside of China. Harrison, who remained in Melbourne in ~ the time, called Vogue the Assange dubbed her top top the morning that June 10 and also dispatched she “immediately and secretly come canvass foreign embassies to view which countries could be amenable to giving Snowden asylum.”

On June 11, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman announced that the country would consider an asylum application by Snowden. And also Putin, after ~ denying expertise of Snowden’s flight to Moscow, later admitted the Snowden “first appeared in Hong Kong and met with our diplomatic representatives.” A U.S. Main told Epstein the CCTV cameras videotaped Snowden beginning the skyscraper real estate the Russian consulate in Hong Kong 3 times in June.

Why that matters: The involvement of WikiLeaks and the Kremlin when Snowden hid in Hong Kong raises the prospect that Assange, who has amicable connections with Russia, linked Snowden through Russian officials if attempting to uncover him asylum.

“You require to find a way to Russian officials. It’s no so easy,” Russian security skilled Andrei Soldatov said me in January 2014. “You cannot just knock ~ above the door and also say, ‘I to be an NSA whistleblower and I want call with the Russians.’ So ns think that part contacts were listed by Assange. Ns strongly doubt that there have to be some connection.”


5) ‘Ask the State Department’

Stone’s film repeats the debate that the U.S. Revoked Snowden passport top top June 23, 2013, if he to be on the flight from Hong Kong come Moscow, in order to stranding him in Russia as quickly as the landed.

“When civilization say ‘Why space you in Russia?’ ns say, ‘Ask the State Department,'” Snowden’s personality says, echoing what Snowden has said in genuine life.

However, follow to the State Department, the U.S. Federal government revoked Snowden’s passport the day before he left Hong Kong. “Consul General-Hong Kong shown Hong Kong authorities were notified that Mr. Snowden’s passport to be revoked June 22,” the State Department’s senior watch officer told officials.

Also on June 22, Assange acquired an unsigned “special refugee travel document” from the Ecuadorian lawyer in London that provided Snowden a sembleance of travel documents while Beijing promoted his exit. WikiLeaks later reiterated that Assange obtained the Ecuadorian paper specifically so that Snowden can leave Hong Kong and also travel to Ecuador via Russia. However, Ecuador’s president subsequently said that the take trip pass to be “completely invalid,” adding that Snowden was “under the treatment of the Russian authorities.”


Why that matters: The id that the U.S. Stranded Snowden in Russia is critical to Snowden and also his supporters arguing that he would certainly otherwise have actually traveled come Latin America. The notion that Snowden is stuck in Russia largely due to the fact that of Assange, that paid for Snowden’s aircraft tickets, lodging and also legal counsel in Hong Kong when advising the to look for asylum in Russia, subverts the Latin America argument.

So what?

These inequalities wouldn’t issue as much if rock and Snowden said that the movie simplifies and also fictionalizes certain events. But with the director and also the primary subject swearing by the accuracy that the film, these editorial selections take on an ext meaning. After all, Snowden has been charged through theft of federal government property and also two violations of the U.S. Espionage Act for disclosing share communications.


Snowden’s supporters hope the the film will certainly galvanize support for a presidential pardon. In ~ the screening, Wizner announced that the ACLU and other institutions are launching a formal campaign this week — together with the website pardonSnowden.org — that will attempt to sway President Obama come pardon Snowden before he pipeline office. Stone’s film is being supplied as part of that campaign.

“I think Oliver will certainly do much more for Snowden in two hrs than his lawyers have actually been able to perform in 3 years,” Wizner said Vice reporter Jason Koebler in ~ the Brooklyn publicly Library.

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“Snowden” is an extremely much the story the Edward Snowden would favor to it is in told. Snowden even makes a cameo at the finish of the film, i m sorry serves as his seal the approval. However Stone’s biopic curbs few of the unflattering aspects of Snowden’s heist and asylum, and viewers must keep the complete context in mind.

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