The United States government charged former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden with spying on Friday, apparently unaware that in doing so it had created a situation dripping with irony.
At a press conference to discuss the accusations, an N.S.A. spokesman surprised observers by announcing the spying charges against Mr. Snowden with a totally straight face.
“These charges send a clear message,” the spokesman said. “In the United States, you can’t spy on people.”
Seemingly not kidding, the spokesman went on to discuss another charge against Mr. Snowden—the theft of government documents: “The American people have the right to assume that their private documents will remain private and won’t be collected by someone in the government for his own purposes.”
“Only by bringing Mr. Snowden to justice can we safeguard the most precious of American rights: privacy,” added the spokesman, apparently serious.