Whistleblower Edward Snowden has broken his silence at a last minute meeting in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport – finally announcing he plans to stay in Russia, for now.
In an email, Snowden said that he had accepted offers of asylum from “brave countries around the world”, but he is currently unable to transit safely from Moscow to Latin America.
The ex-NSA contractor invited human rights activists and lawyers to meet him at “G9” in Sheremetyevo. Human Rights Watch’s Tanya Lokshina posted an email from Snowden onto her Facebook page before heading down.
Russian news agency Interfax reported Snowden had been staying in the airport’s capsule hotel before meeing human rights activists and lawyers openly in the transit zone. He was joined by Wikileaks lawyer Sarah Harrison.
Snowden reportedly said he is only accepting Russia’s offer because of his “inability to travel”.
Vladimir Putin offered Snowden asylum on the basis he would not leak any further details that had the potential to harm the United States, which he has now agreed to. Despite offers of asylum from Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, Snowden lacked the required documents to travel. Even if he could travel, in an unprecedented move, Bolivia’s Evo Morales had his flight grounded for suspicion of hiding Snowden.
The United States is chasing Snowden around the world for blowing the whistle on a global surveillance network ran by the NSA, Prism.
In the second part of his Guardian interview, Snowden said he had not handed over intelligence to foreign officials and that his motive was to uphold the constitution rather than to damage the United States.
A poll recently found that, despite establishment efforts to smear Snowden – something he had predicted – most Americans believe he is a “whistleblower” and not a “traitor”.
Here is Snowden’s email in full, via HuffPo UK:
“I have been extremely fortunate to enjoy and accept many offers of support and asylum from brave countries around the world. These nations have my gratitude, and I hope to travel to each of them to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world.
“Unfortunately, in recent weeks we have witnessed an unlawful campaign by officials in the US Government to deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The scale of threatening behavior is without precedent: never before in history have states conspired to force to the ground a sovereign President’s plane to effect a search for a political refugee. This dangerous escalation represents a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America or my own personal security, but to the basic right shared by every living person to live free from persecution.
“I invite the Human Rights organizations and other respected individuals addressed to join me on 12 July at 5:00PM at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for a brief statement and discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation. Your cooperation and support will be greatly appreciated in this matter.
Edward Joseph Snowden”
Please meet at 4.30pm at Sheremetyevo airport in Terminal F, in the centre of the arrival hall. Someone from airport staff will be waiting there to receive you with a sign labelled “G9”. Please bring a copy of this invite and ID to show that you work for your organization as security will likely be tight at this meeting. A maximum of three people are able to attend from each organization. For any questions please contact the airport administration on +8 916-816-4335.