Last Week Tonight Coup: John Oliver Interviews Edward Snowden

John Oliver Edward Snowden Last Week Tonight

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver flies to Russia and interviews whistleblower/ leaker Edward Snowden. To paraphrase one of the show’s running gags, is this really a thing?

What at first seemed like an elaborate gag during Sunday’s episode turned into a semiserious chat with one of the most pursued men in the world when Oliver traveled 10 hours to talk with Snowden, who was charged in 2013 with espionage after leaking classified documents related to secret NSA surveillance programs.

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Sexts. Citizenfour, the Oscar-winning documentary about Snowden (which HBO, Last Week Tonight‘s network, happens to have broadcast.) The KGB. All of these topics came up during the course of the interview, during which Snowden explained in detail several of the NSA programs — using illicit photos as an example.

After showing Snowden man-on-the-street video in which regular people couldn’t identify him or what he’d done, Oliver deadpanned that he should just return to the United States, “since it seems like no one knows who the f–k you are.”

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Just after the interview aired, Oliver tweeted this:

Press PLAY on the video below to watch it all happen. 

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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28 Comments
  1. Michael A Saniti says:

    Mike from Minnesota, Just wanted to say; I really enjoyed tonight’s show! Great Interview! Very Funny and a great way to inform people of the importance of this situation! GREAT JOB, THANKYOU FOR THE LAUGHS

    MIKE

    • Angela says:

      I liked it, too. It was rather interesting to see the way Snowden answered, or sort of answered, some of the questions-some he was point blank, others, he seemed to be hemming and hawing on. And the lack of general public understanding about this issue is unfortunate, to say the very least.
      (Course, who can blame people, really, for their ignorance. After all, this episode also showed a clip from a cable news network where a woman discussing this very serious issue was interrupted in order for us viewers to be informed us of criminal charges against Justin Bieber. I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised by that, given the state of most news networks nowadays, but still…wow. Who honestly decided that was a good idea? Seriously?).

  2. Kris Bennett says:

    Where’s the video?

    • KatsMom says:

      No video’s available until after west coast viewing. It was a long interview, so the whole thing may not be posted either.

  3. Chris Hadley says:

    brilliant! during the hour when Oliver was waiting for Snowden to show up I was thinking Please God let this happen! and I was not disappointed. Snowden is even more humanized here than in Citizen Four. Let the man come home. He is a true American hero.

  4. To bad Oliver didn’t kill the slime bag.

    • David4 says:

      Is that a threat against Bush and Obama?

      Snowden is an American hero that risked his life to show the world the fact the last two presidents should be in jail for treason. That they broke every part of the Constitution dealing with warrants and trials.

      For some reason people don’t get that. There was a general who leaked top secret info in order to get laid that actually endangered lives. He gets a slap on the wrist. This country is so stupid, and that’s the way the governments wants you to be so they can piss on your rights and you won’t complain.

      • Gern Blanston says:

        People get it. They just don’t care. Personally, I am torn about Snowden. I have no problem with him leaking how the government was spying on its citizens. I do have a problem with him revealing how we were spying on other countries, even our allies. So, on one hand I agree with the “hero” tag. On the other, I view him as a traitor. I think lots of people see him this way so, that’s why there isn’t this universal acclaim for him as this great American hero that many want him to be seen as.

        • shellybot says:

          I don’t see him as a hero. He is a traitor. He chose to leak our secrets and possibly endanger our country’s security. Russia isn’t letting him stay in their country for free. I wonder what secrets he have up as a price to hide in their country. Besides, if he truly believes he did the right thing, then why not come back to America and face the consequences of his actions. But he won’t, he doesn’t want to go to jail for being a traitor.

        • cuius says:

          Other countries/allies would have to be pretty naive if they hadn’t realised many years (centuries?) ago the extent of inter-nation spying that takes place. This may have been revealing to the public, but governments? No!

          • Angela says:

            This.
            And while I understand and agree on one level with the comments made by others here about the security risks posed by Snowden leaking the fact we spy on other countries, allies included, at the same time, if I were one of our allies, I’d probably wonder why the U.S. feels a need to spy on a country they claim to call a friend to begin with. The U.S. is far from innocent, after all-we’ve interacted and worked with/supported some pretty shady and questionable governments. So I could see our allies finding it a wee bit hypocritical that we’re sitting here spying on them when we’ve got our own problems and questionable actions we should be sorting out.
            Besides that, not only do I want to know what my tax dollars are doing here within our borders, I’d also like to know what’s being done with them when it comes to international activities that our government’s involved in, too.

      • Strangness says:

        No one cares about Snowden; and that’s because his actions changed nothing at all. Here’s the deal, Snowden didn’t reveal anything that anyone with at least two functioning brain cells didn’t already know. Seriously. Governments spy. THAT was his big revelation?

        GASP!!!!! Oh no! Not THAT!!! That just CAN’T be true. Not Government!!! No!!! Next you’ll be telling me that water is wet or the sun goes down in the west! Say it isn’t so!!!!

        • KevyB says:

          So you knew that our government has probably been spying on you too? Because it probably has. They were pretty explicit last night explaining that naked pics of regular people have been circulating through the NSA. You know, pics that you THOUGHT were private? Yeah, we all figured they were listening in and using programs to find out if we were using any of their “target” words. Which is NOT okay, by the way. But to find out that our private texts and emails and phone calls can be used as casual jokes in the halls of the NSA?

          “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Ben Franklin

  5. ICURPNT2 says:

    Snowden is awesome. Surveillance on private citizens is wrong and infringes on our Constitutional Rights. He’s a HERO in my eyes.

  6. queerbec says:

    Peabody award winning episode, at a minimum!

  7. Norma Brookins says:

    Thank you :-)

  8. SPAMMER says:

    SPAM DELETED

  9. SPAMMER says:

    SPAM DELETED

  10. Britta Unfiltered says:

    That was awesome. Edward Snowden is such an interesting person. I really liked Citizen Four a lot. I think the funniest part of the interview was the expression on Oliver’s face when Snowden finally walked into the room. I wonder if they really were nervous he wouldn’t show or if they had confirmation the whole time he was actually on his way.

  11. nana says:

    Found It sad some American people (I realize selected for Oliver’s skit) really don’t know what the heck is going on in this world. Snowden is a celebrity, like him or not, and folks are worried about body parts being photographed and transmitted. It was good to see Snowden laugh. Good interview and perhaps some folks will actually learn something about the issue. Go Snowden – whatever it takes.

  12. Diva DIary says:

    You want to tell the truth about the government, fine. He didn’t tell me anything I wouldn’t have guessed on my own, he just confirmed what most believed was true. However, you stop being a hero when you start selling those secrets to the highest bidder.

    • Skittles&Bits says:

      I agree. I personally don’t mind him snitching on the government to us, its citizens. I take offense when he starts snitching to other nations, allies or otherwise. The former is appreciated (I’d like to know what the government is doing with my tax dollars) but the latter is a major security risk as I’d rather not have allies or otherwise pulling up to my front doors threatening to blow me sky high using intel one of our own gave them. That’s just not cool.

    • KCC says:

      He did not “sell” anything. He provided some classified documents to a couple of journalists. If you listened to the interview, Snowden did not want to decide what should be released and what shouldn’t. He left it up to the media. I believe Snowden was acting out of patriotism and at considerable personal sacrifice. Does that make him a hero or a traitor? By law he’s a traitor, but are the actions of the NSA constitutional? Apparently it’s ok by most Americans as long as nothing personal about them is reveled (i.e. d*** pics) only terrorists. I thought the piece was a very funny way to tackle a very serious topic and to make it something people can relate to.

  13. Evan says:

    My roommate loves Last Week Tonight and asked if we could watch last night’s episode live, which we usually never do. I’m really glad I stuck around and watched. I thought it was a very inventive way of speaking about an issue that unfortunately people don’t know the full value of (myself included). And framing it around d*ck pics kept it funny, but informative. I just really enjoyed it overall and I’m glad this was the episode we watched live.

  14. Często w takich budynkach wyłączenie ogrzewania nawet
    na kilka godzin nie spowoduje zauważalnego
    spadku temperatury powietrza w pomieszczeniach.

  15. TV Gord says:

    That was a brilliant piece! Is it any wonder people don’t go to the news establishment anymore? What an amazing job John and his team did putting this together!

    I do feel bad for Snowden after him seeing those streeters with the idiots who don’t have a clue what’s going on in the world! He must wonder why he’s stuck in another country…for THESE people? Sad. But he seems to be a very earnest man who is sure he did the right thing.

    After a long period of wondering, I think he did, too. As far as I know, there has been no evidence of his actions putting anyone’s life at risk, and the truth is always the best. I think it’s hilarious that people are concerned about nude photos, but they have no concern (or even awareness) about the consequences of the government having every aspect of their lives merely a click away for a simple search. We really do get the government we deserve, so I guess we’ll be seeing a lot less political griping on social media now. ;-) :-/

  16. GCHQ NSA says:

    “When they’re off the leash they can end up coming after us”

    How very true.. I’m sure most of you have never heard of organized stalking but it’s a covert crime being committed by our intelligence agencies against the public. The following is a short description from Urban Dictionary.

    “A system of organized psychological terror tactics used against a person who has become an enemy of an individual or a government. Subtle but effective techniques of stalking by multiple individuals and psychological intimidation and manipulation are used to slowly but surely drive the target to make complaints to authorities who will see the complaints as bogus because of the methods used against the target. As a result, the target gets labelled as mentally ill.

    There are as many stalking tactics as there are targets as the multistalkers will tailor the stalking to the individuals habits and individual personality. Some common examples or organized stalking are: following the target on foot, by car and public transportation, crowding the target’s space in a public place, murmuring insults under the breath so only the target can hear, sitting in the car outside the target’s residence, starting “fights” in public with the target, doing “skits” on the street which involves information only the target should know but has been found out via surveillance of the target, stealing and vandalism of the target’s possesions.”