WikiLeaks has posted a long statement by Edward Snowden, dated today at 5pm Moscow time. Here it is in full:
Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.
It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US 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.
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.
Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.
Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.
I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.
This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.
If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.
Updated at 4.03pm BST
Here is a summary of what has happened so far today.
• Edward Snowden is claiming asylum in Russia, with a view to staying there temporarily before claiming asylum in a Latin American country. He said he had received offers from Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador. Washington, which seeks to arrest Snowden on charges of espionage, has revoked Snowden’s passport and pressed nations not to take him in or help him travel.
• The Kremlin said earlier this month that Snowden had applied for asylum in Russia but withdrawn his claim after Vladimir Putin said he would be welcome only if he stopped “his work aimed at bringing harm”to the United States – but today Snowden said this was not an issue: “No actions I take or plan are meant to harm the US … I want the US to succeed.” But in response Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov repeated Putin’s demand and said he was unaware of a formal application from Snowden.
• The former US intelligence agency contractor – whose leaks to the Guardian about US surveillance have caused controversy the world over – was speaking at a meeting he had called with representatives of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as Russia’s presidential human rights ombudsman, a Russian MP, and a Russian attorney. Media were not allowed into the meeting, but the participants gave numerous interviews detailing what he had said afterwards. WikiLeaks, which has been helping Snowden since he left Hong Kong last month, said they would issue a statement from the whistleblower later today.
• Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, who was at the meeting, sent the Guardian what was the first photograph the world had seen of Snowden since he revealed himself in a Guardian video last month. Snowden looked much the same as he did in his Guardian interviews from Hong Kong, dressed in a similar open-neck shirt, with stubble and glasses, although his hair was a little longer. Lokshina said that HRW felt that Snowden had a “prima facie case” for asylum because “his concerns about possible ill-treatment if in custody in the United States are legitimate”.
• Snowden told the meeting he felt safe at the airport and his living conditions were good, but he knew he could not stay there for ever. He said he was recognised as an asylum seeker by the UN High Commission on Refugees – but the US, he said, did not recognise this, as the Morales plane affair showed. He said he wanted international organisations to petition the US and EU not to interfere with his asylum claim. In a letter inviting the human rights groups to today’s meeting, Snowden said the US was conducting an “unlawful campaign … to deny my right to seek and enjoy … asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
• Meanwhile, in the latest in its series of scoops based on documents provided by Snowden, the Guardian this morning reported that Microsoft had collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users’ communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company’s own encryption.
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