“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver recently traveled to Moscow to interview Edward Snowden, “the most famous hero and/or traitor in recent American history” who leaked classified NSA documents to the press and was subsequently charged with violating the Espionage Act in 2013, prompting him to seek asylum in Russia.
Oliver opened his main segment on government surveillance by acknowledging that “most people would rather have a conversation about literally any other topic,” but noted the importance of the discussion given the impending re-authorization or curtailment of the Patriot Act, scheduled to take place on June 1. The host then noted just how many Americans seem unconcerned by the issue of government surveillance — illustrating that point by interviewing random tourists in Times Square to see if they knew who Snowden is and what he did. (Spoiler alert: Most didn’t.)
Then Oliver revealed his coup to a delighted audience — a secretive one-on-one interview with Snowden in Russia, which seemed as if it might not come to pass after Snowden was late to their meeting. Thankfully, Snowden finally arrived and the duo shared a frank, funny and wide-ranging discussion about everything from NSA programs to the leak of phallic photos.
You can watch Oliver’s entire segment on surveillance here — the interview itself begins around the 16 minute mark.
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” airs Sundays at 11 p.m. on HBO.