NSA whistleblower met with human rights groups in a Moscow airport. During the meeting, he discussed his options for leaving Moscow to get to countries in Latin America that have offered him asylum. He also discussed how human rights organizations might be able to assist him.
Snowden prepared a full statement for representatives of human rights organizations, who attended the meeting. The statement has been posted by WikiLeaks.
He announced that he “formally accepted offers of support or asylum” that had been extended to him and “all others that may be offered in the future.”
“With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum,” Snowden stated. “As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.”
He highlighted what he called the “historically disproportionate aggression” from the United States that countries like Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador have stood up to while he has been in the airport in Moscow. He said they “have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless.”
“By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders,” he added.
He urged all to stand up to the “willingness” of “powerful states to act extralegally.” He also asked for “assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted.
“I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably,” he said.
From within the NSA, he asserted that he had the “capability without any warrant to search for, seize and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates” and a “serious violation of the law.”
“The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance,” Snowden stated. “While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.”
He continued, “I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: ‘Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.’”
Snowden also explained, “I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.”
“That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets,” Snowden said.