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Friday, July 12

Snowden formally accepts asylum offers, cites Nuremberg principle, announces intention to seek temporary refuge in Russia until he can travel

I took the caption for the following photograph from USA TODAY but moments later when I returned to the page it seemed the caption had been deleted except for the photography credit.  Here is the original caption:  "Picture released by Human Rights Watch shows US National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive leaker Edward Snowden during a meeting with rights activists at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport Friday.(Photo: Tanya Lokshina AFP/Getty Images)"

Below: highlights from USA TODAY report followed by text of Ed Snowden's complete statement and Wikileaks background to the statement:
Snowden has 'no regrets,' seeks asylum in Russia
by Anna Arutunyan and Doug Stanglin
1:14 p.m. EDT July 12, 2013

 NSA leaker wants to stay temporarily in Russia until he can travel to Latin America.

MOSCOW -- Edward Snowden said Friday that he has no regrets over leaking details about U.S. electronic spying networks and is seeking temporary asylum in Russia until he can reach one of the Latin American countries that has offered to take him in.

"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," he told a group of human rights activists and other public officials at a meeting at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, where he has taken refuge since June 23.
Snowden, whose U.S. passport has been revoked, said he has formally accepted an offer of asylum from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, as well as all others which have expressed support "and all others that may be offered in the future."

The meeting included Vyacheslav Nikonov, chairman of the Russian state Duma, Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International Russia, Vladimir Lukin, Russia's presidential human rights ombudsman, attorney Genri Reznik, and Tanya Lokshina, of Human Rights Watch.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told Russian news agencies after Snowden's announcement Friday that Russia had not received a new bid for asylum from Snowden and that Putin would continue to insist that Snowden stop leaking information.

Nikonov told Rossiya 24 that he asked him about Putin's previously stated conditions, and that Snowden told him he had. "He does not want to harm U.S. interests because he is a law-abiding citizen and a patriot," the Russian lawmaker said..

Snowden, in his remarks at the meeting, said governments in Western Europe and North American are acting outside the law by preventing him from traveling and called on the rights activists to intervene with Putin on his behalf.
Snowden said the U.S. government and intelligence agencies have tried to make an example of him as "a warning to all others who might speak out as I have."

"I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression," he said.

He also invoked the principles declared at the Nuremberg trial of Nazis in 1945 that "individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."
The American Civil Liberties Union, meanwhile, issued a statement Thursday asserting that the former defense contractor "has serious claims for asylum and has a legitimate right to seek asylum irrespective of the human rights record of the country that he ultimately ends up in."

The statement charges that the USA has interfered with Snowden's right to seek asylum by revoking his passport and appears to have prevented him from receiving fair and impartial consideration of his application in many of the countries to which he has applied.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU human rights program, and Chandra Bhatnaqar, senior attorney for the program, also warn that by infringing on Snowden's right to asylum, "U.S. actions also create the risk of providing cover for other countries to crack down on whistle-blowers and deny asylum to individuals who have exposed illegal activity or human rights violations.

"That's a very dangerous precedent to set," the statement says.

Contributing: Stanglin reported from McLean,Va., The Associated Press

Friday July 12, 15:00 UTC

Edward Joseph Snowden delivered a statement to human rights organizations and individuals at Sheremetyevo airport at 5pm Moscow time today, Friday 12th July. The meeting lasted 45 minutes. The human rights organizations included Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and were given the opportunity afterwards to ask Mr Snowden questions.

The Human Rights Watch representative used this opportunity to tell Mr Snowden that on her way to the airport she had received a call from the US Ambassador to Russia, who asked her to relay to Mr Snowden that the US Government does not categorise Mr Snowden as a whistleblower and that he has broken United States law. This further proves the United States Government’s persecution of Mr Snowden and therefore that his right to seek and accept asylum should be upheld.

Seated to the left of Mr. Snowden was Sarah Harrison, a legal advisor in this matter from WikiLeaks and to Mr. Snowden’s right, a translator.

Transcript of Edward Joseph Snowden statement, given at 5pm Moscow time on Friday 12th July 2013. (Transcript corrected to delivery)

Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.

It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.

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 and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.

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.

Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.

Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.

I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.

This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.

Thank you.
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