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NSA Leaker Snowden Casts Net Wide In Bid For Asylum

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, July 2 2013

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who U.S. authorities are hunting down for espionage, has applied for asylum from 19 countries through Wikileaks, the anti-secrecy organization said late Monday.

Those countries include Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and Venezuela.

"The requests were delivered to an official at the Russian consulate at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow late in the evening. The documents outline the risks of persecution Mr Snowden faces in the United States and have started to be delivered by the Russian consulate to the relevant embassies in Moscow," Wikileaks said in a note posted on its Web site.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that the request would only be considered if Snowden stops leaking, reported several U.S. news outlets. Meanwhile, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told The Guardian that the efforts made by government officials to help Snowden escape from Hong Kong were "a mistake." The Wall Street Journal also reports that U.S. officials worry that Snowden might escape to either Bolivia or Venezuala as the presidents of those countries are in Moscow at a natural gas summit. Snowden is reported to be holed up at the airport in Moscow, and Bolivia's President Evo Morales told the official Russian news channel RT that his country would consider asylum for Snowden if asked.

More than a million people from around the world have signed a petition addressed to President Obama at Avaaz.org to recognize Snowden as a whistleblower acting in the public interest, as opposed to being a spy. They're also calling for him to be treated humanely, should he be returned to the States.

"The question is not which country will grant Mr. Snowden asylum. The question is which countries still have an independent executive," Wikileaks tweeted Monday night U.S. time.