To recap, Edward Snowden is the man who stands behind a number of top secret information leaks from the National Security Agency. He has now accused the U.S. government of threatening his freedom and safety “for revealing the truth.” The 30-year-old’s U.S. passport was revoked and since then, Snowden has been globe-trotting in need of a country to hold him.
According to the LA Times, Russian news media reported Monday that Snowden had applied for asylum in Russia and 14 other countries. But Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear that any grant of refuge would be contingent on Snowden ceasing to leak sensitive classified information “aimed at damaging our American partners.”
Snowden has been staying in a transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for more than a week, without documents that allow him to proceed through passport control, purchase plane tickets on outbound flights or even change currency or access foreign bank accounts.
Now Snowden’s July 1st WikiLeaks statement from Moscow is making headlines. Read his words here:
One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.
On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.
This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.
For decades the United States of America has been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.
In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.
I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.
Edward Joseph Snowden
Monday 1st July 2013