Edward Snowden addressing SXSW via teleconference

Even though he can't set foot in the United States for fear of arrest, fugitive National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden was set to speak remotely Monday to an audience of thousands at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival.

Snowden, who fled the United States in June with thousands of top-secret documents, is scheduled to appear via teleconference at noon ET from Russia for a discussion about how the tech community must defend itself against mass surveillance.

Snowden will chat with Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

"The conversation will be focused on the impact of the NSA's spying efforts on the technology community and the ways in which technology can help to protect us from mass surveillance," an SXSW news release says.

Audience members will be allowed to ask questions, and The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit media organization, intends to live stream the session.

Hugh Forrest, director of SXSW Interactive, said Snowden "wants to talk to a tech-focused audience about the importance of building the next generation of online tools that protect user privacy."

Also scheduled to speak at the tech-themed conference Monday afternoon -- although in person -- is journalist and civil liberties lawyer Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story about Snowden's leaks of classified NSA documents.

Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor who fled the United States after leaking details of the American government's spy programs, was granted temporary asylum in Russia last year.

He faces felony charges of espionage and theft of government property in the United States, and he has said he won't return until the U.S. changes its whistleblower protection laws.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addressed an SXSW gathering Saturday, also by teleconference, from London, where he is holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy. Assange was granted diplomatic asylum at the embassy after Sweden sought to question him in connection with a sexual assault investigation.

The 10-day SXSW festival began Friday and wraps on March 16.

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