Edward Snowden seeks asylum in Brazil

 

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on Tuesday released an open letter to Brazil seeking asylum.

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Snowden, who is now in Russia, said he is willing to help Brazil with its investigation of U.S. spying, but needs to obtain “permanent political asylum” in order to do so.

“Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak,” he wrote in the letter, which was published in the Brazilian paper Folha de S. Paulo.

Snowden said he has expressed his willingness to assist Brazil "wherever appropriate and lawful," but claimed the United States is standing in the way.

“Unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so — going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America!”
 
Snowden has been living in Russia for six months, but has only been granted one year of temporary asylum. The United States is seeking his return in order to prosecute him for leaking classified information.

In a separate Folha story accompanying the letter, Snowden collaborator and Brazil resident Glenn Greenwald says Snowden’s movements and communication in Russia has been limited. As a result, he wants permanent asylum and would prefer Brazil over other likely options.

Greenwald says he plans to lobby Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to grant the asylum.

“If the Brazilian government thanks him for the revelations, it is only logical it protects him,” Greenwald told Folha.

Snowden’s letter makes many claims about the NSA’s reach in Brazil, saying that the NSA can track the location of any Brazilian with a cellphone, log every phone call they make and record anything they do on the Internet.

“These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power,” Snowden says in the letter.

Brazil has been one of the leading countries protesting the NSA’s espionage against U.S. allies. Rousseff canceled a visit to the U.S. over the spying, and the country has been pushing a UN resolution recognizing that a general right to privacy exists on the Internet. 

According to Reuters, a spokesman of the Brazilian foreign ministry said the county was not currently deliberating granting Snowden asylum. The spokesman said no official request for asylum has been received from Snowden since his arrival in Russia six months ago, and that without one the country could not consider granting him asylum.

Some members of the Brazilian government have expressed support for Snowden's cause, however. Senator Ricardo Ferraço, who chairs the Brazilian Senate's foreign policy committee, said in a Twitter message that the country "can not miss the opportunity" to grant Snowden asylum, calling him the key to unraveling U.S. global espionage efforts.