SPY agency whistleblower Ed Snowden says he is “humbled” to have been elected as Glasgow University’s rector by students.
Snowden was controversially elected to the role – which involves representing students at university meetings – in a vote earlier this week.
But the former contractor with the US National Security Agency (NSA) is unlikely to show up as he considered a fugitive by the US government and in hiding in Russia.
The election has also sparked a growing row among students with many undergraduates outraged by the decision and vowing a hold a vote of no confidence.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, he said: “I am humbled by and grateful to the students of Glasgow University for this historic statement in defence of our shared values.
“We are reminded by this bold decision that the foundation of all learning is daring: the courage to investigate, to experiment, to inquire.”
He continued: “If we do not contest the violation of the fundamental right of free people to be left unmolested in their thoughts, associations, and communications – to be free from suspicion without cause – we will have lost the foundation of our thinking society.
“The defence of this fundamental freedom is the challenge of our generation, a work that requires constructing new controls and protections to limit the extraordinary powers of states over the domain of human communication.
“This election shows that the students of Glasgow University intend to lead the way, and it is my great honour to serve as their rector.”
The whistleblower, whose leaks about government surveillance have led to new scrutiny on intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic, beat three other candidates to claim the role.
Snowden polled 3,347 of the 6,560 votes cast in the second round, beating cyclist Graeme Obree, playwright Alan Bissett and church leader Rev Kelvin Holdsworth to the position.
Firebrand academic Noam Chomsky is due to give a video address to students at the University on Friday in support of Snowden.
But a Facebook group called “No to Snowden as GU Rector” has attracted 133 members.
“Edward Snowden has been elected as Glasgow University Rector. We believe he is not fit to hold that position and are calling for a vote of no confidence,” they state.
The group says it is “obvious” Snowden cannot carry out the duties of rector, which include bringing student concerns to the attention of University managers.