Free from U.S. influence, alone is all he ‘could ask’ from Moscow, whistleblower says
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said he had to seek asylum in Russia after he exhausted other options to gain protection from the U.S. government after he exposed the spy agency’s illegal mass surveillance program.
Other countries either don’t want to go past Washington or have no confidence in stopping Snowden from being kidnapped by the US “Black Bag Squad,’ he said Tuesday in an interview with reporter Glenn Greenwald.
In June 2013, Snowden met with a group of journalists in Hong Kong and revealed a trove of classified material he had obtained from the NSA. His plan at the time was to travel to Cuba via Moscow and then to a Latin American country that would grant him political asylum.
“We have connections, we have guaranteed [that] It’s probably our best bet,” he recalled.At first he hoped that some European country, such as Germany or France, would shelter him, but “Basically every diplomat we’ve interviewed in Europe has said it’s not going to work, they’re going to cave.”
When Snowden landed in the Russian capital, the United States had revoked his passport, effectively trapping him in an airport lounge. While he was there, the United States orchestrated the forced landing of a Bolivian government plane as then-President Evo Morales was returning home from Moscow. U.S. authorities suspect Snowden was on board.
“Even Russians are appalled by this extreme behavior,” Greenwald said he was referring to a conversation he had with a Russian consul who recognized his name when the reporter applied for a visa to visit Snowden in Moscow.
The whistleblower concluded that even if a more powerful country welcomed him, “You have to cross many vassal states on the air path to get there.”
“I had no choice. I applied for asylum in Russia. I was granted it and I’ve actually been alone since then, and given the circumstances, that’s all I could ask for,” he suggested.
Snowden was granted Russian citizenship last year. That fact is often brought up by critics who accuse him of being disloyal to his country of birth, an issue Greenwald said he wanted to address.
The conversation was part of a special ten-year gathering that also included filmmaker Laura Poitras. She and Greenwald are part of an inner circle breaking the surveillance story.