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‘There’s element of panic in US policy towards Edward Snowden’

Published time: July 02, 2013 13:04
A protester carries a paper cutout of Snowden (Reuters / Bobby Yip)

As various countries say they cannot consider Edward Snowden’s request for asylum, US civil rights activist Norman Solomon tells RT that hardly any government will want to challenge the US in this way.

Solomon believes US attempts at grabbing Snowden and bringing him to the US are a sign of panic.  No one, including Snowden, is capable of stopping further leaks, as the documents have been handed to journalists or other people who can make them public.

Norman Solomon is one of the organizers of the "Hands Off Edward Snowden!" online campaign, which calls on US citizens to individually email President Obama asking him not to interfere in Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum. 46,000 signatories have already sent emails.  

RT:  In the letter to the Ecuadorian government, Snowden stressed that he remain free to publish more leaks. Why has he made such a statement, just after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he can stay in Russia under condition he stops his whistleblowing activity? Does it imply his refusal to take Putin's proposal?

Norman Solomon: Not particularly. Because the horses are already out of the barn.  Ever since he surfaced in Hong Kong a few weeks ago Edward Snowden has been very clear that there are many documents showing the extent and techniques and reach of US surveillance, that have already been provided to journalists and, perhaps, other persons who can make them available to the world which is an availability that should be made. I think that that was determined well before Edward Snowden reached the airport in Moscow.

RT: By releasing this letter now, is he trying to affect the Ecuadorian government's decision on granting him political asylum?

NS:  Well, it’s a little unclear, certainly, it’s a very warm letter on the whole towards the government of Ecuador, and recognizing that apparently, as we have been informed, there were travel documents made available to Mr. Snowden and made it feasible for him to travel from Hong Kong, get on an airplane and arrive in Moscow. That said it’s unclear whether there’s a single government on the planet right now willing to challenge the United States efficiently to offer asylum to Edward Snowden. That is a sad commentary on the global power of the United States. 

A supporter of Edward Snowden holds a sign outside the Embassy of Ecuador in London (Reuters / Luke MacGregor)


RT: Snowden's threats of more leaks under his current situation, meaning that he's a stateless person unable to seek refuge anywhere, doesn't look like a desperate act, does it?

NS: I would say that Edward Snowden is not threatening to release anything. He has already made clear in the last several weeks, beginning with his surfacing and initial interview with The Guardian newspaper by video that those documents that he has from the USA are in the process of being released. We can clearly infer that they have been provided in large quantities to The Guardian newspaper, and perhaps other outlets included, like Der Spiegel in Germany. So I don’t think that he’s doing anything else other than fulfilling what he said several weeks ago, what he had already begun to do, which is to share this documentation with the world.

RT: In the statement Snowden accuses the U.S. of trying to deprive him of his basic rights, including that of seeking asylum. Do you think his accusations are justified? And if America realizes that the information is going to come out anyway, why is it in such a panic to get hold of Snowden?

NS: Yes, the information that hasn’t gone now is already evidently in the pipeline. I think, what Snowden has said, is quite justified – the US is trying to use its economic and political and surveillance reach to grab him, to bring him back in the US. There is an element of panic in US policy towards Edward Snowden and this entire issue, and the effort is of the big global giant trying to crush any ongoing voice in this case from Edward Snowden who could authoritatively, with great information, continue to inform the world. So I think that from the standpoint of democracy, the US government is continuing to try to persecute Mr Snowden by first acting as though there were judge and jury and then pretending to want to go through a legal process. The suppression of Bradley Manning, his nine months in solitary in near and perhaps over the line of torture conditions are a warning and that goes to the last part of your question. The US government wants to discourage whistleblowing from those in agencies like the NSA. The US is far, of course, from the only government that engages in surveillance of its citizens which is improper, including the Chinese and Russian governments. However, the US government is the superpower when it comes to not only military, but also surveillance capability and its actual implementation. And, as an American I find that shameful. That is why at RootsAction.org we have already 46,000 people who have gone to our site in the last few days, sending individual emails to president Obama saying “Hands off Edward Snowden!” 

Activists display a photo of US President Barack Obama and pictures of former US spy Edward Snowden and whistleblower Bradley Manning during a protest action (AFP photo / Ronny Hartmann)