The foreign minister of Ecuador, Ricardo Patino, held a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he made some remarks about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s request for asylum and read an excerpt from the application.
Patino, according to a post by New York Times blogger Robert Mackey, said, “The word treason has been batted around in recent days. We need to ask who has betrayed who?”
The excerpt was apparently translated from Spanish to English when it aired on BBC. That translation was posted by Mackey.
Here’s the first excerpt:
I, Edward Snowden, citizen of the United States of America, am writing to request asylum in the Republic of Ecuador because of the risk of being persecuted by the government of the United States and its agents in relation to my decision to make public serious violations on the part of the government of the United States of its Constitution, specifically of its Fourth and Fifth Amendments, and of various treaties of the United Nations that are binding on my country.
As a result of my political opinions, and my desire to exercise my freedom of speech, through which I’ve shown that the government of the United States is intercepting the majority of communications in the world, the government of the United States has publicly announced a criminal investigation against me. Also, prominent members of Congress and others in the media have accused me of being a traitor and have called for me to be jailed or executed as a result of having communicated this information to the public.
Some of the charges that have been presented against me by the Justice Department of the United States are connected to the 1917 Espionage Act, one of which includes life in prison among the possible sentences.
Part of his application explained why he had chosen Ecuador in addition to highlighting the inhumane treatment Pfc. Bradley Manning experienced:
Ecuador granted asylum to the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, in relation to this investigation. My case is also very similar to that of the American soldier Bradley Manning, who made public government information through Wikileaks revealing war crimes, was arrested by the United States government and has been treated inhumanely during his time in prison. He was put in solitary confinement before his trial and the U.N. anti-torture representative judged that Mr. Manning was submitted to cruel and inhumane acts by the United States government.
The trial against Bradley Manning is ongoing now, and secret documents have been presented to the court and secret witnesses have testified.
I believe that, given these circumstances, it is unlikely that I would receive a fair trial or proper treatment prior to that trial, and face the possibility of life in prison or even death.
Earlier today, I published a post titled, “Leaving the US Doesn’t Make Snowden Any Less of a Whistleblower.” I highlighted this reality the United States government faces where leakers are now fleeing because they believe they will be punished unlawfully and subjected to harsh conditions, as Manning was during his confinement at Quantico.
This and the fact that people like Secretary of State John Kerry are talking about Snowden being a traitor, who committed acts of espionage, is not going to help persuade any country to return Snowden.
Moreover, there is a lot of huffing and puffing going on about the “rule of law” and how Russia must follow it and arrest Snowden and send him back to the US. However, Snowden has submitted an application for asylum and, as long as that is pending, Russia is supposed to respect that application and not override it by having him extradited.