Interestingly enough, the last person to win the poll was Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, who was a precursor to Mr. Snowden in the whistleblowing game.
The Guardian’s “Person of the year” for 2013 is Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor-turned whistleblower.
Mr. Snowden’s release of classified information provided a troubling picture of the scale and methods of secret surveillance techniques followed by the world’s most sophisticated state intelligence gathering establishment, the NSA.
The revelations, published in the Guardian and other outlets of the international media including The Hindu, served to open the eyes of the world to what the Guardian in its announcement of the award called “the unfettered and at times cynical deployment of power by the world’s foremost superpower.” Mr. Snowden won 1445 votes out of the 2000 people who voted in the Guardian poll.
Interestingly enough, the last person to win the poll was Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, who was a precursor to Mr. Snowden in the whistleblowing game. That two people should win the award in successive years for broadly the same reason is a measure of how people view the need for official transparency, especially from elected governments that conduct their affairs in the name of the people.
Manning, an intelligence analyst who worked in Iraq during the war, leaked a massive cache of classified information to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. This included a chilling 2007 video of a U.S. airstrike in Bagdad in which innocent people were casually gunned down from above.
Announcing the results of the 2013 polls, the Guardian said that the information that Snowden released was “truly stranger than fiction: a dragnet programme to scoop up digital activities direct from the servers of the biggest US tech companies; a tap on fibreoptic cables to gather huge amounts of data flowing in and out of the UK; a computer program to vacuum up phone records of millions of Americans; a code-breaking effort to crack the encryption system that underpins the safety and security of the internet.”
And like all lists, the names of those who didn’t make it to the top are always of much interest and curiosity.
Marco Weber (Switzerland) and Sini Saarela (Finland), the activists of Greenpeace who led the campaign protesting oil extraction in the Russian Arctic came second with 314 votes. The Greenpeace protest-vessel Arctic Sunrise was detained and its occupants arrested by Russia in the Pechora Sea in September. The activists on board the vessel were protesting oil extraction activities on the Prirazlomnaya oil rig.
Pope Francis came next with 153 votes, followed by the anti-poverty campaigner, food writer and blogger Jack Monroe with 144.
A single mother based in Southend, Ms. Monroe shot to prominence after her blog — agirlcalledjack.com — began attracting a wider and wider circle for the cheap and nutritious recipes it offered on a £10 a week budget. Her blog contains incisive first person commentary on living in poverty, and the impact of weakening safety nets for the poor in today’s Britain. Ms. Monroe also blogs for the Guardian.
The Somalian actress Waris Dirie who has campaigned against female genital mutilation got 69 votes, followed by Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of the digital currency Bitcoin, with 33.