According to reports, National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden announced on Friday that he would be seeking temporary aslyum in Russia and hopes to eventually move to South America. Snowden faces criminal charges, including espionage, for leaking documents related to U.S. datamining and surveillance programs.
Snowden invited human rights groups and “other respected individuals” to a briefing at the Moscow airport to discuss his asylum status, claiming the U.S. government was engaging in an “unlawful campaign” to deny his right to seek and enjoy asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Snowden had previously withdrawn his request for asylum in Russia after President Vladimir Putin stated Snowden would have to stop leaking information that might bring harm to Russia’s “American partners” to stay in the country.
At the briefing Snowden said he received asylum offers from Venezuela, Russia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. Even before the Bolivian asylum offer was made, a plane carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales was denied access to French and Portuguese airspace and forced to reroute to Austria amid suspicions Snowden was on board.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argues that U.S. actions to limit Snowden’s ability to seek asylum, including what if any role the United States played in the incident involving President Morales’ plane, have strengthened his claims for asylum “based on political persecution.” Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged countries to “fairly consider” Snowden’s asylum request.