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Snowden Seeks Asylum In 20-Plus Nations, Gives Up On Russia

Edward Snowden, seen during a video interview with <em>The Guardian</em>.
Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras
Edward Snowden, seen during a video interview with The Guardian.

With help from a WikiLeaks lawyer, the young American who admits he leaked information about National Security Agency surveillance programs has now asked more than 20 nations to give him asylum.

But as NPR's Jean Cochran said early Tuesday on the network's newscast, Edward Snowden's chances of getting asylum from any nation in Europe "do not look promising. ... Poland has turned him down. Officials in Germany, Norway, Austria and Switzerland say he cannot apply from abroad."

There was also word from India's foreign minister early Tuesday that "we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the Snowden request," Reuters reports.

What's more, Snowden has reportedly given up already on one nation he applied to — Russia. He's in his ninth day of legal limbo in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. But as CNN writes:

"Snowden has abandoned his effort to seek asylum in Russia after President Vladimir Putin warned that he would have to stop leaking information about U.S. surveillance programs if he wanted to stay, a Russian official said Tuesday."

Snowden is wanted by U.S. authorities, who are looking to prosecute him for leaks to The Guardian and The Washington Post about NSA programs that sweep up information about phone and Internet communications. Intelligence officials defend the programs as necessary tools in the fight against terrorism and say the contents of Americans' phone calls, emails and other communications are not monitored. Critics say the programs threaten personal liberty. Some of the nation's closest allies are furious about reports of spying on friendly nations.

Early Tuesday, WikiLeaks (which has been giving Snowden legal advice) announced that:

"On 30th June 2013 WikiLeaks' legal advisor in the Edward Snowden matter, Sarah Harrison, submitted by hand a number of requests for asylum and asylum assistance on behalf of Edward J. Snowden, the NSA whistleblower.

"The requests were delivered to an official at the Russian consulate at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow late in the evening. The documents outline the risks of persecution Mr Snowden faces in the United States and have started to be delivered by the Russian consulate to the relevant embassies in Moscow.

"The requests were made to a number of countries including the Republic of Austria, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Finland, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of India, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Ireland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Kingdom of Norway, the Republic of Poland, the Russian Federation, the Kingdom of Spain, the Swiss Confederation and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

"The requests join or update others previously made including to the Republic of Ecuador and the Republic of Iceland."

On Morning Edition, NPR's Corey Flintoff reported that "in Moscow, there is speculation that Venezuela may take Snowden in, because Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is the Russian capital for a summit of gas-exporting countries and could take Snowden back with him on his presidential plane."

As we reported Monday, Snowden released a statement this week accusing President Obama and his administration of deploying "the old, bad tools of political aggression" in an effort to "frighten, not me, but those who would come after me."

"I am unbowed in my convictions," Snowden added.

Update at 8:30 a.m. ET. Brazil Says No:

According to Reuters, "Brazil will not grant asylum to former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, adding that it will leave the request unanswered."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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