The ex-American intelligence analyst, Edward Snowden said today he wants to seek political asylum in Russia until he can travel to Latin America, where several countries have offered him asylum status.
At a meeting convened at the Sheremetyevo airport with representatives of international human rights organizations, Snowden today broke the silence that he has kept since he landed in Moscow on June 23,.
The deputy director of Human Rights Watch, Tanya Lokshina stated today:
“He wants to stay here (in Russia) until he can fly to Latin America. But to ensure his safety here in Russia, the only way is by filing a formal request for asylum” (http://www.telegrafo.com.ec/actualidad/item/snowden-pide-reunirse-con-activistas-de-derechos-humanos.html).
In a letter released today by WikiLeaks, Snowden said he accepted every offer from the various countries that made gave him asylum. He stated however:
“With the President of Venezuela (Nicholas) Maduro, granting me formal asylum status no state now has the basis to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy the asylum” (ibid).
Vladimir Putin said if Snowden wanted temporary refuge in Russia, Snowden should stop criticizing the United States and not damage ties between Moscow and Washington.
The reaction to the announcement by Dmitri Peskov, a spokesman for President Putin was:
“Hypothetically he could stay in Russia if he waives any activity that harms the interests of our American partners and relations between Russia and the United States. He has announced that he would meet that condition put forth by Russia and that it has been easy to accept it. He has no intention of harming the U.S. because he is a patriot of the country,” Peskov told reporters and Russian political scientist Vyacheslav Nikonov. (ibid).
But he added that the former agent of the NSA considers that his leaks about the spy plot were a patriotic act and they do not harm the interests of his country.
Besides Russia and Venezuela, in a statement released by WikiLeaks, the CIA ex-analyst mentioned Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador; he stated that these are countries that have expressed their “full gratitude and respect for him being the first to take a stand against rights violations committed by the powerful rather than the powerless. He said he was refusing to compromise his principles from intimidation, have earned the respect of the entire world.”
Snowden added that he intends to travel to each of these countries to extend his “personal thanks to their people and their leaders.”
“In recent weeks we have witnessed illegal campaigns by officials of the U.S. government to deny my right to seek and enjoy asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The scale of threatening behavior is unprecedented” (ibid).
He also referred to the incident in Europe where the plane of President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, was forced to land in Austria after leaving Moscow amid suspicions that Snowden was on board, prompting accusations that Washington had asked the European countries to prohibit it to fly through their airspace.
“Never before in history have states conspired to force-land the plane of a sovereign president seeking to help a political refugee. This dangerous escalation represents a threat not only to the dignity of Latin America and my own personal safety, but for the basic right shared by every person to live free of persecution,” he added.
In his statement, the young American who believes and emphasizes that doing the right thing is what he did also stated:
“I did not seek to enrich myself. I never tried to sell U.S. secrets. Nor did I associate with any foreign government to ensure my safety. Instead, I revealed what I knew to the public, so that what affects all of us can be discussed in broad daylight. And I asked for justice from the world.”