Edward Snowden threatens new U.S. leaks, applies for Russian asylum

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference, part of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), at the Kremlin in Moscow, July 1, 2013. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference, part of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), at the Kremlin in Moscow, July 1, 2013. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden broke his silence on Monday for the first time since fleeing to Moscow to say he remains free to make new disclosures about U.S. spying activity.

In a letter to Ecuador seen by Reuters, Snowden said the United States was illegally persecuting him for revealing its electronic surveillance program, PRISM, but made it clear he did not intend to be muzzled.

“I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest,” he said in an undated letter in Spanish sent to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.

“No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world. If any of those days ahead realize a contribution to the common good, the world will have the principles of Ecuador to thank.”

Snowden’s intervention came after he had applied for political asylum in Russia. President Vladimir Putin had earlier said he was not welcome unless he stopped harming U.S. interests.

Believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow’S Sheremetyevo airport, Snowden poured scorn on the U.S. government.

“While the public has cried out support of my shining a light on this secret system of injustice, the Government of the United States of America responded with an extrajudicial man-hunt costing me my family, my freedom to travel, and my right to live peacefully without fear of illegal aggression,” he wrote.

ASYLUM APPLICATION

Wikileaks activist Sarah Harrison, who is travelling with Snowden, handed his asylum application to a consular official in the transit area at Sheremetyevo airport late on Sunday, Kim Shevchenko, a consul at the airport, told Reuters.

The Los Angeles Times, citing an unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry official, reported that Snowden had met Russian diplomats and given them a list of 15 countries where he wished to apply for asylum. Foreign Ministry and Kremlin officials declined immediate comment on the reports.

Putin, speaking eight days after Snowden landed in Moscow, repeated that Russia had no intention of handing him over to the United States, where he faces espionage charges.

“Russia has never given up anyone to anybody and does not plan to. And nobody ever gave anyone up to us,” Putin said.

For the second time in a week, Putin said Russian intelligence agencies were not working with the 30-year-old American.

“If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: He must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips,” he told reporters after a gas exporters’ conference in Moscow.

But Putin said he suspected that Snowden would not stop leaking information, because “he feels himself to be a human rights activist”.

“So he must choose a country of destination and go there,” he said, speaking before the asylum request to Russia was reported. “Unfortunately, I don’t know when this will happen.”

Correa said on Sunday that Snowden’s fate was in Russia’s hands because Ecuador could not consider the plea until he reached Ecuador or one of its embassies.

U.S. PRESSURE

Snowden, who has not been seen by reporters scouring the airport, has had his U.S. passport revoked and countries around the world are under U.S. pressure to deny him asylum.

A U.S. national security official said that, as far as the U.S. government knew, Snowden was still in the transit zone and would have a “hard time leaving” the airport if he wanted to.

When asked about speculation that Snowden might leave with one of the delegations to the conference, whose guests included the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia, Putin said did not know of such plans.

Shortly after Snowden fled the United States to Hong Kong last month and long before he arrived in Russia, Putin suggested the surveillance methods he revealed were justified in fighting terrorism, if carried out lawfully.

Although Russia has sometimes exchanged captured spies with the United States, Putin suggested on Monday that this was not on the cards for Snowden. “As for Mr Snowden, he is not our agent and he is not working with us,” said Putin.

Obama, at a news conference in Tanzania dominated by the EU controversy, repeated that the United States was working through law enforcement channels to prod Russia to extradite Snowden.

Obama said there had been “high-level discussions with the Russians about trying to find a solution to the problem”.

(Additional reporting by Lidia Kelly, Alissa de Carbonnel in Moscow, Mark Hosenball and David Ingram in Washington and Jeff Mason in Dar Es Salaam; Writing by Steve Gutterman and Andrew Osborn; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Ralph Boulton)



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…