National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden ripped into President Obama on Monday, accusing the White House of using “political aggression” to force his extradition back to the United States.
“The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon,” Snowden said in a statement Monday evening posted by Wikileaks, the anti-government-secrecy group. “Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”
Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked NSA documents about American Internet and phone surveillance programs, has remained silent since fleeing to Moscow a week ago. Snowden is believed to be staying in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where Russian officials say the ex-CIA official remains protected from being detained.
Snowden asked for asylum in Russia on Monday, and he is awaiting a response from the Ecuadorian government to his request to live in the South American nation. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that if Snowden wanted to stay in Russia, he would have to stop leaking American secrets.
And Snowden continued to frame his actions as part of a broader moral call for government transparency.
“In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake,” Snowden said. “We are stateless, imprisoned or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.”
Snowden also reportedly threatened to disclose more details about top-secret U.S. spying methods.
“I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest,” Snowden wrote to Ecuadorian officials in a letter obtained by Reuters. “No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world.”
Based on additional documents leaked by Snowden, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported the NSA bugged European Union offices in Washington and New York, monitored E.U. phone lines and even tapped into its computer network.
Obama was forced to respond to those latest revelations Monday during a press conference in Tanzania, essentially dismissing the disclosures as standard practice.
“I guarantee you that in European capitals there are people who are interested, if not then what I had for breakfast, then at least what my talking points might be, should I end up meeting with their leaders,” Obama said, even though he declined to confirm or refute the German report.