Edward Snowden, left, will appear on a whistleblowers' panel in November at the UnionLastWeekTonight/Justin Higuchi

The Cambridge Union unveiled its Michaelmas 2019 termcard this evening, which includes events with billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, singer Dua Lipa, and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Gates, whose visit has previously been publicised by the Union, will speak on 7th October, in the only members-only event of the open period. He is the recipient of this year’s Hawking Fellowship, which last year was awarded to Apple designer Sir Jony Ive

The fellowship, which began in 2017 and was inaugurated with an address delivered by the late Professor Stephen Hawking, is awarded to “an individual who is distinguished in the STEM fields and who has made a historic and/or significant contribution to social discourse in the STEM fields.”

Gates’ appearance in Cambridge will follow soon after over 100 Cambridge Gates scholars signed an open letter criticising the billionaire’s foundation for giving an award to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

This term’s line-up has several prominent whistleblowers coming to speak as well as Edward Snowden speaking via Skype, including Katharine Gun, a former GCHQ Mandarin specialist who exposed the lengths that US and UK intelligence organisations went to garner support for the 2003 Iraq invasion.

This theme continues in the end of November with a “whistleblowers panel” featuring Snowden, journalist Ewen MacAskill, who was a member of the team that published Snowden’s information on the NSA’s global surveillance programmes, and former US military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, the man behind the Pentagon Papers leak.

Appearing during the open period, during which non-members can attend events, will be TV personality Judge Judith Sheindlin, better known as Judge Judy, on 5th October, followed by Saudi Arabian human rights activist Ensaf Haidar and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.


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This term’s celebrity guests also include George Takei, the American actor who portrayed Sulu in Star Trek, pop singer Dua Lipa, and the 2016 Brit nominee for Best British Female Solo Artist, NAO.

Among the other political speakers will be Jorge Jraissati, member of the Venezuelan opposition and Michelle Bachelet, the former first female President of Chile and current UN High Commissioner on Human Rights. The Union has also confirmed that former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will be speaking in 2020.

Those set to take part in Union debates include Supreme Court Justice The Rt. Hon. Jonathan Sumption, journalist Peter Hitchens, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and Nigerian LGBT rights activist Bisi Alimi.

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