National News
Edward Snowden Seeks Asylum In Russia
By Alex Mazariegos
Jul 16, 2013 - 3:02:12 PM

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Edward Snowden
UNITED STATES—Former NSA technical contractor Edward Snowden, who is wanted by the United States government on espionage charges, has applied for temporary asylum in Russia.

 

Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena confirmed on July 16 that he met with Snowden inside Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, wherein Snowden submitted the asylum request to an official from Russia's Federal Migration Service. According to Kucherena, the FMS has up to three months to decide on the status of the application. Snowden may remain inside Sheremetyevo or he may be moved to a government-run refuge shelter during this time, his lawyer added.

 

If granted asylum, Snowden will be able to live and work freely within Russia for one year, and he can renew his status on a yearly basis indefinitely. Snowden still intends to travel to Latin America, Kucherena mentioned.

 

The National Security Agency leaker has remained inside the transit zone of Moscow's airport since June 23 after attempting to board a flight to Havana Cuba on June 24. His passport was revoked by Washington, who has repeatedly stressed the international community to deny asylum to Snowden. Several countries have thus far offered support to Snowden, including Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua.

 

The current political climate between the United States and Russia has plummeted to sensitive post-Cold War lows since Snowden's presence in Russia. Washington dissented to the possibility of Moscow providing asylum to Snowden. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that he is not certain if he will grant Snowden asylum; he further disclosed that asylum may be granted to Snowden if he agrees to stop the leaks.

 

The Russian President said he had no intention of damaging ties with the U.S. for Snowden's cause. Though Snowden has agreed with President Putin's request of no intelligence leaks, the former NSA contractor has reportedly already distributed all of his classified information to several journalists.

 

Speaking in regards to Snowden's presence in Russia, President Putin said, “He arrived on our territory without an invitation. Russia was not his destination. He was a transit passenger flying to other countries. The moment news arrived that he was in midair, our American partners actually blocked his further movement.”

 

When asked of Snowden's future, Putin responded, “How should I know? It's his life and his fate.”

 

The United States government has charged Snowden with espionage, including counts of theft, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.

 

While at the NSA under contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden leaked documents to US journalists detailing the mass surveillance programs run by the United States and its European allies, which sparked worldwide controversy in regards to the extent of such a security breach caused by Snowden's leak and privacy violations due to the government-sponsored programs. Whereas surveillance programs such as PRISM, which began under the Bush administration in 2007, and Tempora, operated by the British Government Communications Headquarters in conjunction with the NSA, were heavily criticized by the international community, Snowden is marked as both traitor and hero by differing opinions worldwide.

 

Snowden left the United States on May 20, 2013; he traveled from Hawaii to Hong Kong before arriving in Moscow on Sunday, June 23. His identity as a leaker was revealed on June 9.

 

In a statement on WikiLeaks on July 12, Snowden wrote, “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.' Accordingly, I did what I believed right... 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.”



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