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Snowden Breaks Silence for Condemnation

File:Edward Joseph Snowden - Arrival at Sheremetyevo International Airport 03.jpg

Ecuador embassy car in front of Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow on June 23, 2013 around the arrival of Edward Snowden. Author: Dmitry Rozhkov.

Former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, has made a broad appeal for asylum to a number of countries around the globe, including Ireland. The requests were made to a number of countries including Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuala. Snowden recently withdrew his request for asylum in Russia, following comments by Vladimir Putin that he would only be welcomed in Russia if he discontinued “his work at bringing harm” to the US.

India, among other countries, have already moved to deny the request for asylum. “Our embassy in Moscow did receive a communication dated 30 June from Mr Edward Snowden. That communication did contain a request for asylum,” said foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin. “Following careful examination, we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to Snowden’s request.”

In a statement posted on Wikileaks yesterday, Snowden was particularly critical of US President Barack Obama. “One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful. On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.”

Snowden also made mention of the situation with his passport, which was revoked last month. “For decades the United States of America has been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”

Snowden also addressed the American people in his message, warning them that they, and not whistleblowers such as himself, are the real threat for the US Government. “In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless,” he said. “No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised – and it should be. I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.”

A spokesperson for the Irish Department of Justice said that under Irish law, an application for asylum could only be accepted by a person already in the State. Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said that Snowden is “someone who acted at great personal risk and cost” to reveal the extent of the US surveillance programme and would likely be in danger of persecution if he returned to the US. Boyd Barrett said that he would raise the issue in the Dáil.

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