The man responsible for the largest security breach in U.S. history had harsh words for Montreal police, and the Quebec provincial police force.

Edward Snowden, who lives in asylum in Russia, spoke via videconference at McGill on Wednesday evening about government spying and internet security.

Following this week's revelations that Montreal police were wiretapping one columnist, and keeping track of conversations made by three others, Snowden called for Montreal police chief Philippe Pichet to resign.

"We don't see the mayor calling for that. We don't see the local premier calling for that and it's this question, this dynamic, where our governments invested with extraordinary capabilities to peer into all of our private lives, whereas we the public can know almost nothing about how they operate," said Snowden.

More than 1,000 people lined up to attend the event, which was delayed in part because of a strike by casual workers at McGill University.

"This story about the Montreal police spying on a journalist through their phone in a very intense way for the particular reason, a specified reason, of uncovering the sources behind their journalism, is a radical attack on the operations of the free press," said Snowden.

Many of those who attended the speech were concerned about police monitoring reporters, apparently to determine which police officers were leaking information about criminal cases.

"I think it might have piqued a lot of people's interest because it tied into what we know here, and the journalism that we read and we relate to on a local level," said Lola Baraldi.