Snowden Statement at Moscow Airport; Accepts Asylum Offers

2013-07-12

Mike Gerwitz

See Also: National Uproar: A Comprehensive Overview of the NSA Leaks and Revelations[0]; I have not yet had the time to devote to writing a thorough follow-up of recent events and will likely wait until further information and leaks are presented.

Edward Snowden[1]—the whistleblower responsible for exposing various NSA dragnet spying programs[0], among other documents—has been stuck in the Moscow airport[2] for quite some time while trying to figure out how he will travel to countries offering him asylum, which may involve traveling through territories that may cooperate with the United States' extradition requests. Snowden issued a statement today to Human Rights groups at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport[3], within which he mentioned:

I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. [...] I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.[3]
Snowden had previously withdrawn his request for political asylum in Russia[4] after Vladmir Putin stated that he could stay[5] only if he stopped “bringing harm to our American partners”—something which Snowden does not believe that he is doing[6]. Although Venezuela has offered Snowden asylum, as explained by the Guardian[6], “he remains unable to travel there without travel documents”. Even if he does obtain travel documents, there are still worries—earlier this month, the Bolivian president's plane was diverted with suspicion that Snowden was on board[7], showing that certain countries may be willing to aid the U.S. in his extradition or otherwise prevent him from traveling.

My focus on these issues will seldom be on Snowden himself—I would prefer to focus primarily on what he sacrificed his life to bring to light. But it is precisely this sacrifice that makes it important to ensure that Snowden does not fall out of the picture (though it does not appear that he will any time soon). The Guardian also seems to have adopted the strategy of slowly providing more information on the leaks over time—such as the recent revelation that Microsoft cooperated with the NSA's Prisim program to provide access to unencrypted contents of Outlook.com, Hotmail, Skype and SkyDrive services[8]; I will have more on that later.

I end this with a photograph taken yesterday of Richard Stallman with Julian Assange holding up a picture of Snowden[9] that brings a smile to my face.

[0] http://mikegerwitz.com/2013/06/National-Uproar-A-Comprehensive-Overview-of-the-NSA-Leaks-and-Revelations

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Snowden (Now with his own Wikipedia page)

[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/01/edward-snowden-escape-moscow-airport

[3] http://wikileaks.org/Statement-by-Edward-Snowden-to.html

[4] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/02/edward-snowden-nsa-withdraws-asylum-russia-putin

[5] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/01/putin-snowden-remain-russia-offer

[6] http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2013/jul/12/edward-snowden-accuses-us-illegal-campaign

[7] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/05/european-states-snowden-morales-plane-nsa

[8] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/11/microsoft-nsa-collaboration-user-data

[9] http://twitpic.com/d279tx