American whistleblower Edward Snowden has sold a piece of NFT art for over $5mln – with the proceeds donated to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

The NFT art piece, titled Stay Free, was commissioned by Snowden to commemorate a landmark 2020 court decision ruling the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance violated the law. Snowden played an integral part in uncovering the violations – and the art piece comprises every page of the historic court ruling, while a silhouette of Snowden’s face is featured in the foreground of the art piece.

Snowden is perhaps one of the most widely recognisable government whistleblowers over the past decade. During his time as a former employee and subcontractor for the CIA, Snowden gained access to and leaked sensitive information relating to privacy abuses carried out by the NSA in 2013.

Some seven years later, a federal appeals court ruled that the NSA’s surveillance program that collected data on American’s phone calls was illegal. Snowden had to seek asylum in Russia after leaking this information and has since been granted permanent residency in the country. Snowden was charged under the Espionage Act for leaking this information to the public.

Auction a success

Given that NFTs has surged in popularity in 2021, it is not surprising that Snowden’s ‘Stay Free’ art piece garnered such a big price tag at auction. 

The NFT was snapped up by PleasrDAO, which was formed by a group of NFT art collectors. The group posted a winning bid of 2,224.00 ETH for the digital art piece. The final price paid for the ‘Stay Free’ NFT is more than the annual budget of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, as Snowden noted in an earlier tweet as bidding for the art piece heated up.

NFTs have been hugely popular in the entertainment and sports space but this latest auction and donation to an organisation that supports objective and unbiased journalism could pave the way for more charity-focused NFT sales in the future.



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