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

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Local

Local politicians pressure DOJ to investigate Ramarley Graham…

On what would have been his 21st birthday, Ramarley Graham's mother joined elected leaders to ask the U.S. Department of Justice investigate his death.

Local

Muslim leaders welcome NYPD surveillance changes with degree…

Leaders and advocates praise the NYPD's move to shut down a unit tied to its Muslim surveillance program but say there's more left to do.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Going Out

Tasty chicken and waffles in NYC

Try some soul food goodness around the city.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

NHL

Marc Staal healthy, eager to contribute to Rangers…

Marc Staal remembers the feeling of helplessness watching his teammates compete for hockey’s ultimate prize and being unable to contribute.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

Masahiro Tanaka dominates Cubs over eight shutout innings

Masahiro Tanaka certainly had no-hit caliber stuff Wednesday as he allowed just two bunt singles.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.