Snowden blasts US, threatens new leaks; handy map shows his narrowing asylum options
Stranded at a Russian airport with a revoked U.S. passport and no exit visa from Russia, accused American spy Edward Snowden has blasted the Obama administration in a statement released through WikiLeaks, indicates he might make further disclosures and is pondering his narrowing asylum options.
Snowden, a former contract worker for the National Security Agency, revealed the existence of a secret U.S. surveillance program that has been collecting so-called metadata on American citizens, including the phone numbers they have been calling. He complains that the U.S., without a judicial order, is preventing him from exercising a basic right by blocking his asylum efforts, Reuters reports.
However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said Snowden, contrary to his claims, is not marooned in exile, “since he is still a United States citizen, and his country is willing to take him back,” albeit for the purpose of criminal prosecution.
“As the State Department has already said, the U.S. government is prepared to issue individuals wanted on felony charges a one-entry travel document to return home,” said the spokeswoman, Nanda Chitre.
At least nine countries have given a cold shoulder to Snowden’s asylum requests, and he has withdrawn his Russian application, the New York Times (reg. req.) reports. Only Bolivia and Venezuela appear to offer a viable chance for asylum right now, the article notes, although the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, who is on a visit to Russia, has said he won’t offer Snowden a ride to South America on his plane.
In his Monday release on WikiLeaks, Snowden called for “an informed, angry public” to demand “the constitutional government it was promised,” complaining that the Obama administration is pressuring other countries not to cooperate with his asylum requests and thanking his supporters.
“One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth,” he wrote at WikiLeaks.
Another WikiLeaks release Tuesday lists the asylum requests Snowden has made through his lawyer. As a handy color-coded map provided by the Washington Post (reg. req.) shows, his options for asylum are narrowing.
The U.S., where Snowden is wanted in a criminal espionage case, is depicted in black. A large swath of the world, including Brazil, China, India and Russia, is in red or pink, indicating that asylum has been explicitly or implicitly denied.
Other countries shown in dark yellow, including Ecuador and Spain, say he must be present to seek asylum. (Those in lighter yellow have not responded.)
Two relatively small areas of the map, both in South America, are green, indicating that those countries are still considering Snowden’s request. They are Bolivia and Venezuela.
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