‘The Obama administration is afraid of the people’ – Snowden

Demo outside the Ecuadorean embassy in support of Julian Assange
Demo outside the Ecuadorean embassy in support of Julian Assange

EDWARD SNOWDEN the former National Security Agency worker who blew the whistle on the US’s spying activities has been denied asylum by a host of countries.

He applied to 21 nations in hopes of winning protection from American justice.

Poland immediately rejected the petitions while an Indian foreign ministry spokesman said, ‘We have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the request.’ The Netherlands also said no.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said Snowden himself had decided to scrap his petition with Moscow – where he has been stranded in an airport transit zone since June 23 – after Putin said he wanted him to stop releasing damaging allegations about the United States.

The WikiLeaks Whistle-blowing website that is helping the 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor said he had sent out applications to 13 European countries as well as six Latin American nations along with China and India.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said: ‘I’ve seen some reports of his petition for political asylum in some countries but I have no information about that.’

Austria and Finland as well as Iceland, Norway and Spain confirmed they had received the request but argued it was legally invalid because it was not filed from inside their respective countries. Ireland too said it could not accept an asylum request brought in this way.

Italy said it was ‘evaluating’ the request which it dubbed ‘irregular’ because it was not made in person. And Germany said Snowden’s request would be reviewed ‘according to the law’, while France and Switzerland had not yet received the asylum application.

But Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Tuesday his country was willing to consider giving Snowden asylum.

‘If there were a request, of course we would be willing to debate and consider the idea,’ Morales said.

‘What he did was reveal a big truth so that we could avoid a war,’ he said during a two-day visit to Moscow during which he was attending an energy summit.

‘What is happening now should not be; he never killed anyone or planted any bombs.’

But Venezuelan President Maduro refused to entertain speculation that he might take Snowden on a plane with him from Moscow.

Snowden has been stuck in a Moscow airport’s transit zone since arriving there from Hong Kong.

He accused the United States late on Monday of pressuring foreign leaders to refuse him refuge after Washington charged him with espionage for going through with his intelligence leaks.

‘These are the old, bad tools of political aggression,’ Snowden said in a statement published by the anti-secrecy WikiLeaks group.

‘Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.’

An asylum application letter Snowden sent to Poland stressed that US President Barack Obama ‘is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless.

Snowden’s latest leak about US spying on EU countries has angered many European governments and threatened to derail talks on a massive free trade deal between Washington and Brussels.

European Parliament president Martin Schulz stressed that he was ‘sympathetic’ to an asylum request for Snowden and compared reports of US spying on EU offices to ‘KGB methods’.

WikiLeaks said Snowden had also applied for asylum in Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.

Snowden had planned to travel on to Cuba but didn’t because he lacked the proper boarding papers after his US travel passport was revoked.

Snowden on Monday issued his first statement through WikiLeaks since his arrival in Moscow.

He said: ‘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.’

Snowden also called Ecuador – one of those who stand up to US interests ‘an example to the world’.

Snowden says he remains free to publish more information about the US government’s spying programmes.

‘I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest,’ the 30-year-old Snowden remarked in a letter to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.

He also thanked Ecuador for the risk of standing up for the human rights of an individual against the United States.

The US has charged Snowden with espionage and called on Russia to extradite him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Moscow ‘never hands over anybody anywhere and has no intention to do so.

‘If he wants to remain here there is one condition – he should stop his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners no matter how strange this may sound coming from me,’ he said.

Meanwhile, a petition demanding the Obama administration pardon Snowden has mustered over 120,000 digital signatures, way above the threshold where the White House should issue a response.

Here is the full statement from Snowden released by WikiLeaks:

‘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 have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the US 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’