(Photo Courtesy of csmonitor.com)
Friday, Edward Joseph Snowden gave a statement at a Moscow briefing. Snowden warned all that the actions taken in recent weeks by the United States have been undoubtedly in violation of international law. First of all, the whistleblowing that got Snowden into this mess related to the system of surveillance used by United States agents that Snowden feels violates the 4th and 5th Amendments of the Constitution, along with Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights among other multilateral treaties.
Snowden has no regrets. He mentioned how he had the ability, without any warrant, to search for and seize communications, in violation of both U.S. domestic and international law. Regarding his whisteblowing, he claimed that he did not want money, but rather wanted to share with the public the injustices that are taking place daily.
Notwithstanding the initial claims relating to surveillance, Snowden feels that U.S. forces have continued to violate international law. The U.S. has placed Snowden on no-fly lists, has demanded that Hong Kong return him to the U.S. outside of Hong Kong’s system of law in direct violation of the Law of Nations, and even grounded Venezuela’s President’s airplane to search for Snowden as a possible fleeing refugee.
Snowden has extended much praise to Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador for giving support and offers of asylum. He feels that these nations have refused to compromise their principles despite intimidation from Western European and North American states. Snowden most notably criticizes the United States and some European nations for demonstrating a willingness to act outside of the law, in violation of international law principles. He stated that it is this ongoing behavior that has prevented him from travelling to one of the Latin American nations that has offered him asylum.
In his final words, Snowden pleaded to human rights activists for assistance in guaranteeing his safety in travel to Latin America, and stated that he would request asylum in Russia until the day when such transport is possible. As of today, July 13, Russian officials claim that they have received no such request. Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, stated, “We have no contacts with Snowden,” and regarding the alleged requests, he stated, “…extensively covered by the media, and I learned about them just as anybody else.”
By professing his desire to remain in Russia under asylum, Snowden has complicated the situation further. President Putin noted that Snowden must stop harming American interests by releasing information. President Obama responded that as long as Snowden is on the loose, U.S. interests are being harmed.
What do you think about Snowden’s accusations regarding the U.S. and international law? Are we violating international law? Are we threatening to violate international law? Should we violate international law? Lastly, what do you think about what Russia has done so far, and what should Russia do in the days to come?