Snowden: US now using deprivation of Citizenship as a Weapon

Edward Snowden released a statement from Moscow on Monday, slamming Barack Obama for revoking his passport and rendering him stateless and unable to seek asylum even though Snowden has not been found guilty of any crime. (The US denies that revoking a passport is the same as deprivation of citizenship, but in this case it is hard to see the difference. The full statement is below. Snowden has applied for asylum to 15 countries.

In other news, Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa has said that Snowden cannot apply for asylum to that country unless he is already on Ecuadoran soil (thus underscoring Snowden’s point that depriving him of a passport is a means of keeping him from having the right to seek asylum.) Russia’s Vladimir Putin said that Snowden would only be granted asylum in the Russian Federation if he ceases leaking US secrets and “harming our American partner.”

Glenn Greenwald pointed out on Twitter that Snowden turned over his material to The Guardian and that from here on out it isn’t Snowden who is leaking, it is The Guardian and its media partners.

Russian media may not be very free, but Russia Today reports on and discusses Snowden’s statement in a way that muzzled US media will not:

And here is the statement:

“Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow

Monday July 1, 21:40 UTC

One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.

This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.

For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. 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.

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. 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.

I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.

Edward Joseph Snowden

Monday 1st July 2013″

30 Responses

  1. “Edward Snowden released a statement from Moscow on Monday, slamming Barack Obama for revoking his passport and rendering him stateless and unable to seek asylum even though Snowden has not been found guilty of any crime.”

    Edward Snowden has neither lost his citizenship nor been rendered “stateless.” Snowden remains a US citizen, and he has a country, the United States, to which he could return if he so desired. Snowden is a fugitive from justice, and as such the US Government has revoked his passport. That is the normal procedure for US fugitives, whether they are in the US or abroad. It is not unique to his case.

    What Snowden is beginning to realize is the full effect his decision to violate his oath and the position of trust he held by running away with highly classified information and revealing it to the world is having on his life. His highly inflated and romantic view of himself as a whistle-blower has descended into bathos with his trite and untrue claim that he is “stateless.”

    • His oath was to the constitution, which he maintains he upheld. His contract was with Booz Allen, which is what he violated.

    • I’m rather fond of this quote:

      “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.”

      ― Mark Twain

  2. Venezuela seems like his best bet now.

    But this story has more layers. What caused Correa to back off his original embrace of Snowden? Was there a deal spun in that “polite” conversation with Biden, that even Snowden and Assange really doesn’t want to question?

    Certainly Correa would like to get Assange out of his embassy in Britain — but cannot as long as Assange fears unsealing of the charges against him and an extradition request which would bring him here to face prosecution. There is certainly nothing in Sweden that he fears.

    • “There is certainly nothing in Sweden that he fears.”

      Your above-cited quote will certainly be news to Assange. Were Assange to be returned to Sweden, he would face charges involving rape, unlawful coercion, and two cases of sexual molestation. It is interesting that you don’t consider those anything to be concerned about, as if they were no worse than stealing a candy bar.

      • The case has weakened considerably — to the point of falling apart.

        link to dailykos.com

        Assange himself has said that he even believed they might be willing to drop it, and that he might be living in the Embassy for up to a year — that was just about a year ago.

        link to abcnews.go.com

        The ball is really in the U.S. hands — and they have enough to juggle as it is, it wouldn’t surprise me if this one was quietly dropped.

  3. Snowden should have fled to Brazil. It is a large multi-ethnic county that welcomes educated immigrates. While Brazil does have an extradition treaty with the USA, it generally does not deport people.

  4. Snowden should ask travel documents from the UN HCR : it isn’t uncommon for refugees to leave their countries without passport.

    What I don’t know is how you can get that kind off documents : they are probably mostly distributed in refugees camps, by local UNHCR agencies. May be also by the ICRC who is present in conflict zones.

    No doubt that he US would try to pressure the UNHCR to refuse such documents to Snowden.. The US is quite influential in UN organizations.

    • The UNHCR does not just hand out travel documents to anyone claiming to be a refugee. The term “refugee” has a precise definition under the United Nations and under international law. Before the UNHCR could even consider Snowden a refugee, he would have to be processed and interviewed by a UNHCR representative, who would then make a determination on his status.

      Even if a UNHCR representative were to determine that Snowden qualified for refugee status (a highly debatable proposition), Snowden would not be issued a travel document until and unless a third country accepted him as a refugee.

      Keep in mind that there is a big difference in status and categories between a “refugee” and a “political asylee.” Those seeking refugee status have fled their country of origin and must be processed by a UNHCR representative. Those seeking political asylum must be on the territory of the state to which they are applying, and UNHCR representatives have nothing to do with their cases.

  5. I hadn’t realized before this that there is a right of asylum for anyone who commits a crime, or, come to think of it, that when judges require passports to be surrendered at arraignment they’re violating international law. Or is it that Snowden/Assange is making it up as he/they go along?

    • I don’t understand your point. All asylum seekers have been charged with a crime, that is why they are seeking asylum.

      And yes, international law holds that they have a right to seek asylum.

      And, if your government won’t issue you a travel document, are you really a full citizen?

      The question is whether they are charged with a crime for political purposes, i.e. whether the charges are invidious. Is leaking to the press really a form of “espionage.” Has the American public considered the paranoid Red Scare atmosphere in which the Espionage Act of 1917 was passed? Is it better than the Alien and Sedition Act?

      • For the sake of clarity, the conditions under which one can seek asylum are considerably broader than having been charged with a crime – Under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, asylum seekers must show that they have a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, and are unable or unwilling to seek protection from the authorities in their own country.

    • Making over $120,000 at age 29, seems analogous to a college athlete skipping a degree to join the pros.

      Might start a fun (commentariat) “dialogue” on the value of a high school education.

      And being condemned to live in the transit lounge of a Russian airport does look like the loss of US citizenship. Spending long years within the US penal system instead of the transit lounge doesn’t make citizenship all that appealing.

        • Bill Gates demonstrated considerable IT skills when he helped create an operating system that was successful and allowed him to drop out of college. I’ve been in IT for a long time and I assure you that Snowden has not impressed me thus far.

  6. “There is certainly nothing in Sweden that he fears.”

    Assange, understanbly, fears that Sweden’s attempts to get him on Swedish soil will prove to the first step in his rendition to the United States.

    • Assange has no reason to fear extradition from Sweden to USA. If Britain didn’t extradite him, Sweden certainly won’t, Assange is far too well known. The Swedish government might do it, in fact did it once, if it thought it could be done without anyone noticing, but the case of Sweden letting CIA render two people to Egypt caused such a scandal when it became public that’s it’s unlikely to be repeated.

      As for the sexual assault charges, the case doesn’t seem very strong, but the prosecutor understandably isn’t happy about a celebrity being able to just flee the country without even being heard.

      • Assange can’t be extradited by Britain because he resides in the Ecuador Ambassy : ambassies are considered out of the jurisdiction of the countries acoiling them. However Assange can’t put a foot out of that Ambassy without risking to be extradited to Sweden.

  7. You ought to love Vladimir Putin, “asylum only if he ceases leaking US secrets and “harming our American partner, and only if Snowden join our comrades singing the US National Anthem every morning :))))

  8. International law does guarantee a right to seek asylum. However, there is nothing in internatonal law which demands that a nation issue, or not revoke, a passport belonging to a fugitive citizen. Such an individual retains rights of a citizen of that nation, just not rights to travel except back to the home nation (if abroad). Nothing unusual about this – frequently, those charged with serious crimes have various travel liberties restricted notwithstanding the general international human right to travel. These restrictions are not generally challenged as violations of international law any more than being held without bail awaiting a trial for a serious crime at a national or even international tribunal (despite presumption of innocence).

    In any case, Snowden is not being prevented from seeking asylum, as he has just applied for such in 15(!) separate countries. He is in Russia so he can apply there (Russian claims that the airport transit lounge is not really part of Russia are ridiculous and without merit in internatonal law). It is simply not true to say that the US has prevented Snowden from seeking asylum (they aren’t exactly facilitating it, but since when are they required to?). If the Russians will not let him take a cab to the Ecuador embassy across town to apply for asylum attempt #16, then 1) it’s on Ecuador to explain why they require that, and 2) it’s on Russia to explain why they won’t allow that.

    Leaking to the press can certainly be a form of espionage. For example, if I were to leak the classified specifications of a weapon system, when I hold a clearance and need-to-know for said specifications, and the primary beneficiaries of the leak were adversary nationa and organizations, then it’s not unreasonable to label this espionage. Whether Snowden’s actions are reasonably comparable to such a case is a valid question, but characterizing this as simply a “politcal” crime is a bit of a simplification – and Snowden is not the official arbiter of this in any reasonable sense (nor anyone outside of due process). Claiming that due process is unavailable here due to political oppression is, while possible, a bit convenient for the fugitive, and every figitive would like the world to believe that.

    Also, it is not the case that all asylum seekers are charged with a crime. Some are seeking asylum from places where law and order have broken down, and are seeking asylum from persecution by militias and the like.

  9. I have a feeling that many countries including but not limited to Ecuador will grant asylum to Mr. Snowden. This song and dance is for other reasons such as security. I have a feeling that we are going to hear that suddenly Mr. Snowden is in one of these countries with asylum paper in his back pocket.
    The similar arrangement was done while he was in Hong Kong,the back and forth was taking place between HK government and State Department while preparation for Mr. Snowden departure was underway, which got US government so pissed, so now Moscow, Ecuador, Venezuela, etc., etc. are playing their card game differently.
    I wonder if IRI would offer Asylum, that would be the Ace even if it is for few days of chuckles ;)

    • “In the end we are all kings, …lonely and absolute masters of our own destinies.” –Gene Kira.

  10. Juan, you really make strange statements regarding the Snowden affair. What in the world do you expect the U.S. government to do, ignore the law? I suppose Obama could pardon Snowden. You need to call for a pardon. Otherwise, the govt. is obligated to uphold the law.

    • Hi, Jim. He needed have been charged under the heretofore little-used 1917 Espionage Law, which is unconstitutional and inappropriate to this case.

    • “What in the world do you expect the U.S. government to do, ignore the law?”

      Perhaps, people in the government should set an example when it comes to obeying the law. Bradley Manning was denied his constitutional right to a prompt and fair trial. Instead, he was incarcerated for nearly three years before his trial got under way, and during part of his time at Quantico he was subjected to abusive treatment that violated his constitutional rights and got the attention of Amnesty International and the UN repporteur on torture. And, President Obama said that Manning’s treatment was appropriate. Manning and John Kiriakou exposed crimes. They wound up in the slammer while the criminals they exposed are free. Guantanamo! How much worse can abuse of the law and denial of habeas corpus get than that? Execution of American citizens without trial and innocent people in Yemen and Pakistan Knowledgeable people have made the case that bankers on Wall Street broke laws right and left to create a national crisis, but none of the big players have even been threatened with prosecution.

      I doubt many people now expect the government to obey the law if it doesn’t suit the people with power.

    • “What in the world do you expect the U.S. government to do, ignore the law?”

      I’ll throw my 2 cents in here too.

      What the “law” is in this case depends on whether “government” is willing to acknowledge that wrong things were done, and that Snowden could not have had a reasonable expectation of exposing them from within the system itself.

      Hell, several senators were publicly tongue-tied beyond warning the public that they would be shocked by what they knew — if only they could tell it. Hence no real transparency, no real pressure for a public accounting. Secrets are Secrets good, bad or ugly.

      On the other hand if the government had the political common sense to admit that Snowden was justified in acting from the outside in — then it has the option of treating him as a genuine whistle blower even if he did not follow all the rules, the rules being insufficient to really bring the facts out.

      Lawyers can spin these things any way they want to serve a client — and the government has plenty of lawyers to do just that.

      It’s really a matter of political choice in the end. They have chosen to try to protect themselves from embarrassment, and in doing so have only made things worse for everyone.

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