Edward Snowden said that he would be seeking temporary asylum in Russia until he is able to get to one of the very few Latin American countries that have opened their land to him. In a press conference with public officials and human rights activists Snowden stated, “That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets,” The press conference occurred today at Sheremetyevo International Airport—where he has been holed up for over two weeks now since late June.
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Snowden was thrust into the international spotlight earlier this summer when he revealed the U.S surveillance secrets while holed up in Hong Kong for a period. In the time he fled to Russia, revelations have been made about what countries’ surveillance programs entail, who the U.S is watching, and the reach of the U.S’s NSA program via the PRISM program. It has also led to debate about what Snowden is exactly. Some view him as a hero while he is condemned by others. There’s been debate about the delicate balance of privacy and security.
Having arrived in Moscow, he requested asylum from other countries including Russia. President Putin agreed, but only if Snowden stopped leaking which prompted the NSA leaker to withdraw his application. Meanwhile Venezuela and Bolivia have offered him asylum.
Via a statement through Wikileaks, Snowden stated that he “did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell U.S. secrets, I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.”
With most avenues dried up, Snowden has accepted asylum in Venezuela where President Maduro has been passionate about the former contractor’s actions as well as his own opinions about the U.S. He thanked the Venezuelan President for offering asylum as well as other countries that could offer it in the future.
Snowden went on to state that he would be requesting temporary asylum from Russia so that he can get his travel affairs in order. Meanwhile, Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian President, said that they haven’t gotten a request for asylum from Edward Snowden and that President Putin’s request that Snowden not leak secrets stands.
Among other things discussed were the grounding of the Bolivian President’s aircraft, clipping his wings and hindering flight to countries to partake of asylum, and other instances of the effort that the U.S and allies have gone to in an attempt to cut him off.
President Obama is expecting a call from President Putin today according to White House spokesman Jay Carney and Snowden is sure to be a focus of the call.