LONDON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden broke his silence yesterday for the first time since fleeing to Moscow to say he remains free to make new disclosures about US spying activity.
In a letter to Ecuador seen by Reuters, Snowden said the United States was illegally persecuting him for revealing its electronic surveillance programme, PRISM, but made it clear he did not intend to be muzzled.
“I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest,” he said in an undated letter in Spanish sent to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.
“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.”
Snowden’s intervention came after he had applied for political asylum in Russia. President Vladimir Putin had earlier said he was not welcome unless he stopped harming US interests.
Believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, Snowden poured scorn on the US government.
“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,” he wrote.
Wikileaks activist Sarah Harrison, who is travelling with Snowden, handed his asylum application to a consular official in the transit area at Sheremetyevo airport late on Sunday, Kim Shevchenko, a consul at the airport, told Reuters.
The Los Angeles Times, citing an unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry official, reported that Snowden had met Russian diplomats and given them a list of 15 countries where he wished to apply for asylum. Foreign Ministry and Kremlin officials declined immediate comment on the reports.
Putin, speaking eight days after Snowden landed in Moscow, repeated that Russia had no intention of handing him over to the United States, where he faces espionage charges.
“Russia has never given up anyone to anybody and does not plan to. And nobody ever gave anyone up to us,” Putin said.
For the second time in a week, Putin said Russian intelligence agencies were not working with the 30-year-old American.