30-year-old American Edward Snowden, a contract employee at the National Security Agency, is the whistleblower behind significant revelations that surfaced in June 2013 about the US government's top secret, extensive domestic surveillance programmes. Snowden flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii in May 2013, and supplied confidential US government documents to media outlets including the Guardian.
Edward Snowden warns of 'risk to democracy' on WikiLeaks website
Fugitive appears on WikiLeaks website to tell of the 'hurt' caused by spying operations
US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden warned of dangers to democracy in the first video released of the fugitive since Russia granted him temporary asylum in August.
"If we can't understand the policies and programmes of our government we can't grant our consent in regulating them," Snowden said in one of the short video clips posted on the WikiLeaks website.
The anti-secrecy group said the videos were filmed on Wednesday when Snowden met four retired US ex-intelligence workers and activists now seeking to promote ethics in the profession.
Snowden, a former National Security Agency computer administrator, is wanted in the US after leaking details of vast US telephone and internet surveillance programmes.
Looking at ease, Snowden reiterated the dangers of NSA surveillance, saying indiscriminate spying was a "far cry" from legitimate programmes.
"It's a sort of dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under a sort of eye that sees everything, even when it's not needed," he said.
"People all over the world are realising that these programmes don't make us more safe. They hurt our economy, they hurt our country, they limit our ability to speak and think and live and be creative, to have relationships, to associate freely."
The videos show Snowden and the four former US government employees chatting and smiling over dinner at a luxurious room in an unidentified location.
During the evening, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern gave Snowden an award - a symbolic candlestick - that acknowledges integrity in the profession.
"We are confident that others with similar moral fibre will follow his example in illuminating dark corners and exposing crimes that put our civil rights as free citizens in jeopardy," he told WikiLeaks.
Also present were a beaming WikiLeaks employee Sarah Harrison - a British national who has accompanied Snowden since he arrived in Russia - and his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.