Snowden claims political persecution amid confusion over asylum requests
July 1st, 2013
10:04 PM ET

Snowden claims political persecution amid confusion over asylum requests

By Jill Dougherty

Edward Snowden spoke out for the first time since fleeing to Moscow, according to a statement attributed to him that was released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

In it, he  attacked President Barack Obama and vowed to continue leaking information on government collection of data.

“This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile,” Snowden said, referring to Obama. “These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.”

The U.S. government, he claimed, is “using citizenship as a weapon,” revoking his passport and, he claimed, “leaving me a stateless person.”

The State Department says Snowden is not stateless, noting that he is still a U.S. citizen even though his passport has been revoked.

The United States, officials say, are prepared to issue him a one-way travel document back to the United States to face prosecution on espionage charges.

Obama administration officials deny the case is political.

“Indeed it is not,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Monday, before Snowden’s statement emerged.

“These are serious crimes, serious violations of his obligations … and so our position is that he needs to face a free and fair trial and not be a fugitive. He needs to face justice here in the United States, just as any other U.S. citizen would need to do accused of similar crimes,” Ventrell said.

There was confusion on Monday over whether Snowden, who initially asked Ecuador for asylum, was now seeking it from the Russia.

In a letter to Ecuador reported by Reuters, Snowden said from the Moscow airport that the United States was “illegally persecuting him” for revealing its electronic surveillance program and thanked Ecuador for considering his request.

But two Russian news agencies closely allied with the Russian government reported on Monday that Snowden was asking for asylum in Moscow.

The agencies said Wikileaks lawyer Sarah Harrison, who accompanied Snowden when he fled Hong Kong for Moscow, had contacted the consular station of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and delivered the request.

Shortly after those reports, Interfax news agency flashed the news that the head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service was denying that Snowden had requested asylum.

The Kremlin shed no light on the contradiction.

"I can't answer this question and am not ready to comment on this at the moment," President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax. "I don't have any information."

In another wrinkle,  Putin himself weighed in.

He said at a news conference that if Snowden “wants to stay here, there is one condition: he has to stop his work aimed at damaging our U.S. partners, no matter how strange this sounds coming from my lips.”

Sounding like a man who wanted Snowden off his hands, Putin said the admitted leaker of National Security Agency secrets “feels like a human rights activist and campaigner for human rights, and judging by everything, he does not intend to stop such work, so he has to choose a country of stay and move there. When this will happen, I do not know, unfortunately.”

Putin even compared Snowden to the iconic Russian dissident and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov. “(Snowden) feels like a fighter for human rights, a new dissident to a certain degree, something like Sakharov, well, probably, of a different scale,” Putin said.

But the Russian leader shot down any idea that Moscow would hand over Snowden to the United States.

"Russia never extradites anyone anywhere and is not going to extradite anyone,” he said. “No one ever extradites anyone to us. You probably know this well, too. At best, we have exchanged our foreign intelligence employees for those detained, arrested and sentenced by court in Russia.”

Putin insisted that Snowden “is not our agent” and Moscow is not working with him.

“He is a free man in this regard," Putin said.

But Putin indirectly criticized the United States, noting that Russia’s human rights organizations “said they were opposed to extraditing him to the country where death penalty is possible,” adding “But all this is a separate topic.”

A number of Russian legislators have urged Moscow to give Snowden asylum, noting that he has revealed information that the United States allegedly is violating the civil rights of Americans.

“To be honest, I can't see any problem there. If the problem is hysterics from the United States, they ought to remember that, historically speaking, granting political asylum to figures such as Snowden is normal historical practice, and there's no reason for Russia be embarrassed and cop out,”  Interfax news agency quoted a leading Communist legislator, Ivan Melnikov, as saying.

 

 

 

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. George Patton-2

    I think this Snowdung guy will return to US soon with "REJECTED" stamps all over on his forehead, since he has nothing to offer to communists.

    July 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  2. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Well,
    I hope Snowden likes living in the Moscow Airport. He should have checked with Lee Harvey Oswald before he went to Moscow.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Reply
    • Basketcase 09

      Snowden should go to pakistan and join the terrorists he is trying to protect.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  3. james stirk

    Aw poor baby, is everybody picking on you. Committed a crime and took it world wide, now nobody wants anything to do with you except for your weird buddy Assange, go hook up with him, you two would make a perfect couple.

    July 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    • SamB19

      Exactly. The terms "spoiled brat" and "loser" come to my mind...

      July 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Reply
      • Maersk

        If he is a spoiled brat like you say then you must be a typical American kwok zucking kwok zucker who have zucked his uncle kwok one time too many and swallowed one mouthful too much. You have kum ozzing out of your kwok zucking mouth from being full already. By the way, have you ever wondered why all of a sudden your uncle has stopped accusing the Chinese for hacking his azz and stealing his cherry?

        July 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
      • JuanValdez

        Maersk Decaff?

        July 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  4. jules

    It's like the twilight zone having Putin talk about human rights and civil rights.

    July 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  5. luvUamerica

    Snowden is basically trying to tell Americans, that he has done what he has done, and now he has the right to go scot free. I think he has opened this up enough that his trial will be watched by everybody. He has committed a crime. Whether it is treason or just plain simple theft, that is for the court to decide. But he has committed a crime by stealing.

    He definitely has damaged US reputation, and it's intelligence gathering. Every country collects information, and spies on people. Reason Putin said what he said was because they do spy on the US. The spy agencies of every country have to show something to the people who pay their paychecks.

    Snowden in my mind is both naïve and stupid. And there is no doubt that he will pay for his stupidity. More stupid is Booz Allen Hamilton for allowing this to happen. And no one seem to be bothered about that, on why a private company has in their possession all these sensitive information.

    July 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  6. HoustonOilMan

    Persecuted for committing treason, don't you just hate it when that happens.

    July 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
    • MIB

      I don't think it can be treason, the way the law is worded. Traitor yes but still he would be facing 10 yrs and plus what ever else they can get him with.

      July 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Reply
  7. Laverne

    Excuse me, but Snowden is NO hero here! He really is a stupid man! He is giving up information to these other countries about the US, however these other countries are doing the same to us and have been for years. This guy is young and dumb and should be prosecuted to the fullest as his job was to be an IT analyst and just because he had access to the info, doesn't mean he should have taken it. Snowden broke the law period! The US may be guilty of a lot of things, but we don't sit around and plot how to kill innocent folk to get back at a country just because we don't like them. Again, we have invaded other countries, but not because we just wanted to kill up some folk, but because of our national security interest. Snowden is toast!

    July 2, 2013 at 11:29 am | Reply
  8. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Ya know,
    Snowden should have looked before he leaped. He sold the *hithouse and now he wants special favors. Come on back Snowden. We will send you to Gitmo.

    July 2, 2013 at 11:26 am | Reply
  9. Mr. M

    To those calling Snowden a traitor let me remind you that Snowden is just the latest in a long line of NSA whistle-blowers. Several where far-higher in the NSA. The difference with Snowden is that he had proof in hand of the criminal activity our government was, and is, engaging in.

    Are all these men, all of them having to have faced the wrath of the criminals they were exposing, that hold high and powerful positions, must also suffer the ignorant rants of the less informed whom seem to equate government with country.

    This isn't about Republican vs Democrat, this is about certain people high-up in the corridors of power that are nothing more than murderous-thugs, who themselves hold no ideology other than self-preservation. And they're too cowardly to pull the triggers and set the bombs themselves.

    So what do you do when the people you work for are the crooks? Whom do you go too? The media? Which media? Going to the Corporate Owned News (CON) in this country is akin to setting yourself up for assassination.

    Or maybe you haven't been keeping-up with the Michael Hastings murder. While the CON fills you in on the deaths of people, that are nonetheless tragic, that have very little meaning to you directly, the media remains eerily silent of the death of Michael Hastings, one of their own, that has enormous implications that effect all of us directly.

    Tell us, is Michael Hastings also a "traitor" for being courageous enough to get on national TV, a week before his was blown-up, and "declare war" on the National Security State that had declared war on journalists and the American people?

    Are you so deluded that you would applaud our government sending out hit-squads on journalists? Or is it just the whistle-blowers that would have to suffer assassination attempts (many successful) that you applaud?

    Snowden gave no "secrets" away. If people didn't at the very least suspect the government is trying to listen and gather information on them, then what was the secret? It's what they are "doing" with that information that can strip you of your freedom, or even your life. That's why they shouldn't have it to BEGIN with!

    NSA says "they're not listening to content." Then why are the collecting it? You can't be that stupid to think that somewhere within the bowels of a government as large as ours, that there wouldn't be agencies, or corporations that wouldn't use that information against us? That would be a first. And I see no reason to suspect our government would be the exception.

    "Loyalty to country – always! Loyalty to government, when they deserve it." ~ Mark Twain

    July 2, 2013 at 1:38 am | Reply
    • P

      I think I will just stick to the facts as they come in.

      July 2, 2013 at 5:10 am | Reply
      • Mr. M

        P,

        Good idea, as long as you get your "facts" from the right place.

        July 2, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Pete

      @Mr.M,they've been listening in since before the McCarthy era and Nixon with his illegal wiretaps in Watergare as well,putting Ted Kennedy on his hit list...If you're not doing anything really wrong who cares and thank Bushs Patriot Act,Homeland Security to really make a monster out of Big Brother,typical extremist republicans,the party of NO mornings!!

      July 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Reply
    • The REAL Truth...

      Some folks seem to feel that ideological views trump breaking the law. Whether one agrees with Snowden leaking the information of not, legally he broke the law. Legally he would be considered a traitor by ANY country. He is being treated as such by the US. This is NOT the 1700's any more.

      Governments (in most countries) have been spying on their citizens and other countries since time immemorial. That this surprises many in the US (and elsewhere) after Snowden's revelations is astounding in the revealing how naive and uninformed these citizens are. They rail and whine about it occurring yet probably sit in their armchairs and never even vote. That is more absurd than the spying itself.

      July 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Reply
  10. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    July 1, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Reply
    • SamB19

      That's all well and good, but what's got to do with this snowden loser?

      July 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Reply
      • Daveyo

        You missed the entire point of what John Smith is saying here. He is talking about some exerpts of the wrongs America has done thru time and while all these dummies support USA going after Snowden, they will surely pay a very heavy price sooner or later once USA Government secures everything they want to do.

        As for me I am glad to be outside the American Iron Curtain. Now take a very close look at these two words.

        America > present name vs Amerika > future name.

        Under Amerika it will be like what they did in East Germany.

        Thank God Almighty I am Free, Free at last from the tyranny of the USA. The empire is slowly getting ripped apart at its seams and the final rip will be when all the citizens are under their control totally blind as a bat not knowing what the heck is going on (which means to say everyone will be very confused) as you can see on this thread here, and will be believing all the pretexts given by the Government. It will be too late when all this becomes factually known.

        July 3, 2013 at 11:55 am |

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