The heart of tech is coming to the heart of the Mediterranean. Join TNW in València this March 🇪🇸

This article was published on July 2, 2013

Snowden claims to be ‘unbowed,’ ‘free and able’ to continue publishing NSA secrets

Snowden claims to be ‘unbowed,’ ‘free and able’ to continue publishing NSA secrets
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

In a letter sent to Ecuador, Edward Snowden claimed that he is able to continue his whistleblowing activities unabated, despite his current legal and physical limbo.

Snowden has been in a Russian airport for a week. In the letter, which Reuters managed to view and excerpt, Snowden thanked Ecuador for its help in getting him to Moscow. He hopes that the country will grant him asylum, and therefore a legal home.

Currently, the United States is demanding his return to the country, and has axed his passport. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has stated that Snowden can stay in Russia, provided that he stops leaking classified United States information. “There is one condition if he wants to remain here: he must stop his work aimed at damaging our American partners. As odd as it may sound from me,” the Russian premier is quoted by a state newspaper as saying.

Snowden appears to have no such intention. Here are the key passages from his letter that Reuters published today:

I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest. […] 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. […]

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.

If the letter will warm Snowden to Ecuador isn’t clear. The country recently slowed on idea of providing him asylum following meddling by Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. Assange is currently holed up in an Ecuadorian embassy, trying to set the record for longest time camped in a single building by an internationally known fugitive.

If I can be afforded a personal moment, I am consistently surprised at the tenacity of Snowden. He works constantly against his own self-interest, in terms of his physical safety and the chance of him ever leading a normal life, to continue the mission he kicked off in Hong Kong.

The impact of his efforts has been tectonic. The global flow of goods may be disrupted, and shaped by his revelations. Quite certainly the diplomatic landscape has shifted. And it appears that we are going to get still more from the man.

Separately, Snowden released a statement today that addresses his exile more generally. I’ve pasted it below [Bolding: TNW].

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.

As far as condemnations go, that is a corker.

The question now becomes which country that lacks a rendition treaty with the United States will offer him asylum. If not Ecuador, that is. How long Snowden can stay in one section of his current airport isn’t clear. However, so long as he doesn’t cross over into Russian territory, he can likely stay checked in for a few more days. I doubt the accommodations are pleasant or the room service any damn good.

Top Image Credit: thierry ehrmann