Edward Snowden threatens new U.S. leaks, asks numerous countries for asylum

Edward Snowden

Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden broke his silence on Monday for the first time since fleeing to Moscow over a week ago, blasting the Obama administration and saying he remained free to make new disclosures about U.S. spying activity.

Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the United States and is believed to be staying in a transit area at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, surfaced with a letter to the Ecuadorean government and in a statement released through anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which has taken up his cause.

WikiLeaks also released another statement saying Snowden was asking for asylum in several countries, including Russia, China, Brazil, India and Ireland. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa was quoted in Britain's Guardian newspaper as saying his country could not consider an asylum request unless Snowden was on Ecuadorean territory.

In his WikiLeaks statement, Snowden accused the Obama administration of deception in a campaign to prevent him from finding political asylum and of "leaving me a stateless person" by revoking his U.S. passport. Snowden, 30, had not been heard from in the eight days since he flew to Moscow from Hong Kong, where he had first taken refuge after fleeing Hawaii.

Snowden has sought asylum in Ecuador and in an undated letter sent to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa seen by Reuters, said the United States was illegally persecuting him for revealing its electronic surveillance programme, Prism, but made it clear he did not intend to be muzzled.

'UNEQUAL WORLD'

"I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest," Snowden, who had been a contract employee for the U.S. National Security Agency, said in the letter. "No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world. If any of those days ahead realise a contribution to the common good, the world will have the principles of Ecuador to thank."

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