Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who fled to Russia after exposing a mass surveillance scheme of the US government, believes that of all European countries, only Russia’s foreign policy is independent enough to grant him an asylum.
“I think it’s interesting, a little bit sad and a lot more instructional that in all of Europe there seems to be only one country whose foreign policy is independent enough that the American whistleblower can still be heard,” he said during a video linkup broadcast live by Germany’s Zeit Online. “We should not see the protection of whistleblowers as an adversarial action.”
Snowden asked rhetorically, why no other government “in the whole of Europe, a long-term ally and friend of the United States” has ever said that protecting whistleblowers is something that can at least be considered.
“Protecting those people [whistleblowers] is not something that can be even considered, it’s not a conversation that we can have, because we fear that the United States intelligence services might share not as much information, or there might be some form of retaliation,” he said.
The whistleblower said the fact that he regularly criticizes the Russian government demonstrates that he was not recruited by Moscow.
In 2013, Snowden released information on methods of electronic surveillance of American intelligence services, including illegal tapping of foreign leaders’ talks. Fleeing from prosecution, Snowden sent requests for asylum to some countries, including Russia. On August 1, 2014, he received residence permit in Russia for three years, which was later prolonged for another three years.
In the US Snowden is charged with violation of two sections of the law on spying. He may face up to 10 years behind bars under each of these sections. The US administration officials repeatedly stated that they consider Snowden a traitor and are not going to pardon him as he had inflicted serious damage to the interests of national security.