An artwork depicting Edward Snowden, former NSA intelligence contractor turned whistleblower, was minted as a non-fungible token (NFT) and sold at a benefit auction for $5.44 million in worth in Ethereum, or about 2,200 ETH.
Titled as Stay Free, the artwork portrays the exiled NSA whistleblower with his chin resting on his hand, reminiscent of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. The image was shot by Platon Antoniou, a British portrait and documentary photographer. The shot was overlaid with all the pages from a landmark court decision ruling the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance as a violation of the United State of America’s Patriot Act. The artwork was signed physically by Snowden himself.
The NFT was sold to user @PleasrDAO after a volley of bids moments before the auction closed. According to the work’s details page on Foundation, the artwork was produced using open source software, and is the only known NFT produced by Snowden himself.
The auction was held on behalf of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an organization led by Snowden aimed at defending and supporting transparency journalism. The beneficiary is a non-profit organization established in 2012, and is actively involved in development of open source communication and encryption tools and the tracking and monitoring of issues and threats to press freedom.
Snowden currently resides in Russia, with his residency granted by the Russian government after years of exile after he was charged of espionage by the U.S. government. Snowden worked as a contractor for the CIA and the NSA in 2013 as an analyst.
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