NYFF: Edward Snowden Doc 'Citizenfour' Reveals Existence of Second NSA Whistleblower
At the end of the Laura Poitras doc, the famed informant registers shock over another
A second National Security Agency whistleblower exists within the ranks of government intelligence.
That bombshell comes toward the end of Citizenfour, a new documentary from filmmaker Laura Poitras about NSA informant Edward Snowden that had its world premiere on Friday at the New York Film Festival.
In the key scene, journalist Glenn Greenwald visits Snowden at a hotel room in Moscow. Fearing they are being taped, Greenwald communicates with Snowden via pen and paper.
While some of the exchanges are blurred for the camera, it becomes clear that Greenwald wants to convey that another government whistleblower — higher in rank than Snowden — has come forward.
The revelation clearly shocks Snowden, whose mouth drops open when he reads the details of the informant's leak.
Also revealed by Greenwald is the fact that 1.2 million individuals are currently on a U.S. government watch-list. Among them is Poitras herself.
And the surprises don't end there. Near the end of the film, which received a rousing standing ovation, it is revealed that Lindsay Mills, Snowden's dancer girlfriend of 10 years, has been living with Snowden in Moscow.
When Poitras went to Moscow in July to show Snowden an early cut of the film, she shot footage of the two cooking dinner together, which appears in the final cut.
Snowden fled to Russia after the U.S. government revoked his passport and put pressure on other governments not to grant him asylum.
After spending 39 days in a Moscow airport, Snowden was granted a one-year asylum from President Vladimir Putin. He is now in the country on a three-year residency permit.
Poitras took the stage at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall following the screening, flanked by Greenwald, with whom she partnered on a pair of explosive stories in The Guardian and Washington Post about Snowden's surveillance disclosures in June 2014.
Also joining them was Jeremy Scahill, their partner on the website The Intercept, and Snowden's father and stepmother. Snowden's father thanked Poitras for having made Citizenfour, which he deemed a "wonderful piece of work."
Poitras kept her comments following the screening to a minimum, and thanked her crew and Snowden. Instead it was Greenwald and Scahill who did most of the talking, with Scahill at one point describing Poitras as "the most bad-ass director alive, period."
Before the screening, Poitras told The Hollywood Reporter that she will never forget the moment when Snowden -- who was so young Greenwald initially doubted his authenticity -- said he was willing to go on the record with his allegations.
"One of the most intense moments was when Snowden told us his identity would not remain anonymous, and I knew that somebody was really, really putting their life on the line," Poitras said.
Oct. 13, 2:19 p.m. A previous version of this story stated that Greenwald revealed 1.2 million Americans were present on the watchlist. THR regrets the error.