In its desperate attempt to persecute National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, the U.S. government has taken on the role of oafish bully and is pressuring Latin American countries to deny Snowden asylum or expel him if he arrives:
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that Snowden has invited human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to meet with him in the Moscow airport in light of the U.S. government's campaigning to deny him refuge:
The NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden has said US officials are waging a campaign to prevent him from taking up asylum offers as he called a meeting in Moscow airport with human rights groups.The Guardian will have live coverage on the meeting here.
In a letter sent to groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the former intelligence agency contractor claimed there was "an unlawful campaign by officials in the US government to deny my right to seek and enjoy … asylum under article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and invited them to meet him at 5pm local time.
UPDATE: Snowden indicated he has received asylum offers from Venezuela, Russia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and the Venezuela offer has been made formally. He said he accepts all offers, past and future.
UPDATE 2.0: Amnesty International reiterates its support for Snowden:
Amnesty International was pleased to reiterate our support for Edward Snowden in person.White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says Snowden is not a whistleblower. Government said the same about other whistleblowers charged under the Espionage Act, such as NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake.
We will continue to pressure governments to ensure his rights are respected - this includes the unassailable right to claim asylum wherever he may choose.
What he has disclosed is patently in the public interest and as a whistleblower his actions were justified.
He has exposed unlawful sweeping surveillance programmes that unquestionably interfere with an individual’s right to privacy.
States that attempt to stop a person from revealing such unlawful behaviour are flouting international law.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental right.
Instead of addressing or even owning up to these blatant breaches, the US government is more intent on persecuting him.
Attempts to pressure governments to block his efforts to seek asylum are deplorable.
Asylum eligibility has three requirements, all of which Snowden meets: 1) a well-founded fear of persecution, 2) on account of a protected ground (in Snowden's case, "political opinion"), and 3) a government is either involved in the persecution (in Snowden's case, the United States) or unable to control the conduct of private actors.
After Obama promised not to "scramble jets" to capture Snowden, his administration had no qualms about scrambling Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane. Italy, Spain, France and Portugal refused entry to their airspace, with the latter two countries abruptly canceling air permits. Never mind that, as Bolivia's foreign minister, David Choquehuanca said, this
put at risk the life of the Presidentbecause the plane was low on fuel. That's how desperate the United States is to silence a whistleblower.
If the President's dismissive comment that Snowden is just some "29 year old hacker" were true, than Snowden is hardly worth the major international incident caused when the U.S. grounded the plane of another sovereign leader. If anything, the U.S. government's overzealous and politically-motivated pursuit of Snowden only strengthens his already valid claim of asylum. Every time the U.S. aggressively threatens other sovereign nations and manipulates international relationships to persecute a whistleblower, it strengthens Snowden's asylum claim.