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Edward Snowden accuses President Barack Obama of deception and taking away his basic rights as an American in a letter released by WikiLeaks.
The letter says Barack Obama – despite his public denials that he’d been “wheeling and dealing” with international parties over Edward Snowden – has dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to pressurize governments where the 30-year-old has sought asylum.
WikiLeaks today revealed they have applied to 21 countries in total on Edward Snowden’s behalf. The list includes Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Finland, France, Spain, Germany and Ireland.
It comes as Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa appeared to wash his hands of Edward Snowden saying his country is not considering his asylum request and that the former CIA analyst is Russia’s problem now.
Admitting Ecuador made a “mistake” in helping Edward Snowden flee Hong Kong in the first place, Rafael Correa appeared to backtrack on previous suggestions he was welcome, adding: “Are we responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It’s not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia.”
Asked if he would like to meet Edward Snowden, Rafael Correa added: “Not particularly. He’s a very complicated person. Strictly speaking, Mr. Snowden spied for some time.”
His comments are in direct contrast to the open letter of thanks Edward Snowden issued hours earlier, before Rafael Correa’s views had been published.
“I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest,” Edward Snowden said in an undated Spanish-language letter sent to President Rafael Correa.
“No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world. If any of those days ahead realize a contribution to the common good, the world will have the principles of Ecuador to thank.”
Hours after Rafael Correa’s comments, Finland became the first of today’s new list of potential safe havens to reject his plea for asylum saying such a request has to be made from inside the country.
WikiLeaks legal adviser Sarah Harrison is said to have led the petitions for asylum also made to India, Italy, Norway, Venezuela and Switzerland.
Edward Snowden accuses President Barack Obama of deception and taking away his basic rights as an American in a letter released by WikiLeaks
She also claims to have handled his current application in Russia and his previous request for assistance to China while he was hiding out in Hong Kong.
The long list suggests options are thin on the ground for the former NSA contractor and it appears – from his letter – that he is frustrated by the global community’s refusal to shelter him.
In it Edward Snowden complains that the US is illegally pursuing him for an act that was in the public interest.
“While the public has cried out support of my shining a light on this secret system of injustice, the Government of the United States of America responded with an extrajudicial man-hunt costing me my family, my freedom to travel, and my right to live peacefully without fear of illegal aggression,” it states.
Many critics seized on the letter’s syntax last night to claim it was a fake, written by someone in Britain.
Specifically, those doubting the letter’s authenticity pointed to this phrase: “For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum.”
An American English speaker would use the singular form, has, in relation to the United States.
After the internet erupted in a flurry of doubt, the word “have” was changed to “has” on the official statement on the WikiLeaks site.
Full text of letter released by WikiLeaks it claims is from Edward Snowden
“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.
For decades the United States of America have 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.
In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. 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.
Edward Joseph Snowden
Monday 1st July 2013”
US Vice-president Joe Biden has talked to Ecuador’s leader Rafael Correa by phone about fugitive Edward Snowden’s bid for asylum.
Joe Biden held talks with President Rafael Correa on Friday, the two countries confirmed.
According to Rafael Correa, Joe Biden asked him to reject the request but Washington gave no details.
In a new development, a German magazine says a document leaked by Edward Snowden shows the US bugged EU offices.
Spiegel magazine says a September 2010 “top secret” document of the US National Security Agency (NSA) outlines how the agency bugged offices and spied on EU internal computer networks in Washington and at the UN. The document explicitly referred to the EU as a “target”, the magazine reports.
Edward Snowden is believed to be staying at a Moscow airport, having arrived nearly a week ago from Hong Kong, where he had been staying since he revealed details of top secret US surveillance programmes.
The US has charged him with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence.
Each charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
US Vice-president Joe Biden has talked to Ecuador’s leader Rafael Correa by phone about fugitive Edward Snowden’s bid for asylum
Ecuador has said it is willing to consider Edward Snowden’s request but only when he is physically in the Latin American country.
Rafael Correa said on Saturday that Joe Biden had “passed on a polite request from the United States to reject the request”.
He said he had told Joe Biden: “Mr. Vice-president, thanks for calling. We hold the United States in high regard. We did not seek to be in this situation. Do not get the idea that we are anti-American, as some ill-spirited media outlets are doing.”
If Edward Snowden ever came to “Ecuadoran soil” with his request, he added, “the first people whose opinion we will seek is that of the United States”.
The Ecuadorean president, a leftist economist who received a doctorate in the US, denied he was seeking to disrupt relations and said he had “lived the happiest days of my life” in the US.
White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said only that Joe Biden and Rafael Correa had held a wide-ranging conversation.
Edward Snowden’s father has said he believes his son would return to the US under certain conditions.
Lon Snowden asked for “ironclad assurances” his son’s rights would be protected in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
He asked his son not be held before trial nor subjected to a gag order, and be able to choose where he was tried.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has said the UK would be committing diplomatic suicide if it tried to enter his country’s embassy in London.
Rafael Correa said such a move would open up the UK to having its diplomatic missions around the world entered.
The president was speaking to state television about the continuing dispute over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Julian Assange has been in the embassy since June and been granted asylum by Ecuador as he fights extradition.
The UK says it is obliged to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden, where he faces questioning over sex assault claims, which he denies, and he will be arrested if he leaves the embassy.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has said the UK would be committing diplomatic suicide if it tried to enter his country's embassy in London
Julian Assange entered the embassy in June while on bail before extradition proceedings against him started.
The interview with Rafael Correa opened with a short report from inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
It showed Julian Assange hugging his lawyer, the former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, just minutes before he addressed crowds of his supporters from the embassy’s balcony on Sunday.
Rafael Correa was then asked if he thought there was now no possibility the UK authorities would enter the embassy premises to arrest Julian Assange, as they had previously indicated they might in a letter to Ecuadorean officials.
The preseident said: “While the United Kingdom hasn’t retracted nor apologized, the danger still exists.”
He said such a course of action would be “suicide for Great Britain because then people could enter their diplomatic premises all around the world and they wouldn’t be able to say a thing”.
There was very little said on what the next diplomatic step might be regarding removing Julian Assange from the embassy.
But Rafael Correa said, if needed, he was prepared to take the issue to the United Nations.
He also said Ecuador was hoping for strong support from a meeting of the Organization of American States on Friday.
“Remember that David beat Goliath. And with many Davids it’s easier to bring down a number of Goliaths,” he said.
“So we’re hoping for clear and coherent backing because this violates all inter-American law, all international law, the Vienna Convention and all diplomatic traditions of the last, at least, 300 years on a global scale.”
Returning to the question of Julian Assange, Rafael Correa said: “The British say they have no choice but to extradite him but why didn’t they extradite Augusto Pinochet?”
While Rafael Correa may not have thrown any fresh light on where the stalemate goes next, he did reiterate that the channels of negotiation with the UK were still open.
The UK has insisted it will not grant Julian Assange “safe passage” to Ecuador as it seeks a diplomatic solution to him being given asylum.
The Supreme Court in May dismissed Julian Assange’s bid to reopen his appeal against extradition and gave him a two-week grace period before extradition proceedings could start.
On Sunday, Julian Assange, 41, used his first public statement since entering the embassy to claim asylum – delivered from a balcony – to call on the US to stop its “war on whistle-blowers”.
The US is carrying out an investigation into WikiLeaks, which has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables, embarrassing several governments and international businesses.
In 2010, two female ex-WikiLeaks volunteers accused Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, of committing sexual offences against them while he was in Stockholm to give a lecture.
Julian Assange claims the sex was consensual and the allegations are politically motivated and fears extradition to the US if extradited to Sweden.
The Ecuadorean government said it had granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum because it shared his fears of political persecution and the possible consequences of an eventual extradition to the United States.
“There are serious indications of retaliation from the country or countries that produced the information published by Mr. Assange; retaliation that could endanger his safety, integrity and even his life,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ricardo Patino.
“The evidence shows that if Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, he wouldn’t have a fair trial.
“It is not at all improbable he could be subjected to cruel and degrading treatment and sentenced to life imprisonment or even capital punishment,” he added.
Most supporters of the WikiLeaks founder share this belief.
And Julian Assange knew he could count Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa among those supporters, even before he walked into the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
The Ecuadorean government said it had granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum because it shared his fears of political persecution
But according to Santiago Basabe, a professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, Rafael Correa’s reasons go beyond his declared interest in protecting Julian Assange’s rights.
“It is important to understand that this event was the conclusion of a very long negotiation between Mr. Assange and the Ecuadorean government,” he said.
“Many see Mr. Assange as somebody who has fought for freedom of speech and freedom of opinion, which are also key components of the Ecuadorean government official discourse.
“By granting him asylum, the government was trying to prove it really cares about freedom of opinion and freedom of the press, at a moment when Ecuador has been strongly criticized, both nationally and internationally, for the way the national government understands democracy,” Prof. Santiago Basabe added.
In Ecuador, however, not everybody is convinced the country’s international image will be better off as a result.
The private media and a large majority of opinion makers – traditionally opposed to President Rafael Correa – warned that Ecuador had very little to win from a positive response to Julian Assange’s request.
For instance, Ecuador has been trying to secure a commercial agreement with the European Union and many fear that picking a fight with the United Kingdom and Sweden will not help.
And they will certainly try to use the whole issue against Rafael Correa as he seeks re-election in February 2013.
Former President Lucio Gutierrez has even suggested that Rafael Correa’s real intention is to use Julian Assange’s hacking skills to steal the elections.
But according to Santiago Basabe, Rafael Correa does not need to resort to such strategies to stay in power.
“The possibility of President Correa losing the February voting is very low,” he said, while also noting that a small majority of Ecuadoreans supported Julian Assange’s asylum request anyway.
And the possibility of the British authorities storming into the Ecuadorean embassy in London to capture Julian Assange, raised on Wednesday by Foreign Minister Patino, has provided Correa supporters with a powerful rallying cry.
“This is a decision of a sovereign government, which doesn’t have to ask for British permission to act,” said Rosana Alvarado, a representative in the National Assembly of the official Alianza Pais party.
“I hope the Ecuadorean people will remain united and reject any form of colonialism,” said Paco Velasco, also from Alianza Pais.
To a large extent, however, repercussions will depend on the reaction of the British and Swedish governments – and, of course, of the United States.
And very few people seem to believe the WikiLeaks founder will ever make it to South America.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to make a public statement later on the diplomatic row that has engulfed him since being granted asylum by Ecuador.
WikiLeaks says Julian Assange will speak outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has taken refuge.
Julian Assange faces extradition to Sweden over sexual assault claims, which he denies.
Ecuador’s president has suggested Julian Assange could co-operate with Sweden if assurances are given that there would be no extradition to a third country.
Australian Julian Assange, 41 – whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables embarrassing countries including the US – first walked into the embassy in Knightsbridge, asking for protection, two months ago.
Julian Assange is expected to make a public statement later on the diplomatic row that has engulfed him since being granted asylum by Ecuador
Julian Assange entered the embassy after the UK’s Supreme Court dismissed his bid to reopen his appeal against extradition and gave him a two-week grace period before extradition proceedings could start.
It is established international protocol that local police and security forces are not permitted to enter an embassy, unless they have the express permission of the ambassador.
On Thursday a post appeared on the WikiLeaks Twitter feed which said: “ANNOUNCEMENT: Julian Assange will give a live statement in front of the Ecuadorian embassy, Sunday 2:00 pm.”
However, it is not clear precisely how this statement will be made and Julian Assange has been warned by the British authorities that he will be arrested when he leaves the embassy.
The Sunday Times quotes sources close to Julian Assange who say he would be prepared to leave the embassy if guarantees are given by Sweden that he will not be extradited to the US.
His supporters claim he could face persecution and even the death penalty.
On Friday, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa used his weekly national address to say that the South American country had never said Julian Assange should not “answer to the Swedish justice system”.
“What we have always asked for is a guarantee that there won’t be a second extradition to a third country as that would put at risk Mr. Assange’s life and freedom.”
Rafael Correa said a letter from the British government that drew attention to the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 was “intolerable” and an “explicit threat”.
The act could allow the UK to potentially lift the embassy’s diplomatic status to allow police to enter the building to arrest Julian Assange for breaching his bail terms.
Meanwhile, the Alba group of leftist Latin American nations – founded by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez – has warned the UK government “it will face grave consequences around the world if it directly breaches the territorial integrity” of the embassy.
The UK Foreign Office has said the letter was sent to clarify “all aspects of British law that Ecuador should be aware of”.
It has also said it would follow its obligations, under the Extradition Act, to arrest Julian Assange if he leaves the embassy.
Sweden, meanwhile, has said it is “unacceptable that Ecuador would want to halt the Swedish judicial process”.
It wants to question Julian Assange over allegations that he sexually assaulted two female ex-WikiLeaks volunteers while he was in Stockholm to give a lecture in 2010.