Snowden Didn't Reapply For Brazil Asylum, Says Glenn Greenwald

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Contrary to reports, NSA leaker Edward Snowden hasn’t reapplied for asylum in Brazil, and Brazil hasn’t turned him down a second time. That conclusion, which was broadcast by some news sources, is based on a misinterpretation of an open letter Snowden published in a Brazilian paper Tuesday, according to former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. Here’s what actually happened.

In early July, Brazil announced that it would leave Snowden’s request for asylum unanswered. This is different than rejecting it outright, as leaving the request unanswered allows for the possibility of accepting it later down the line. Days later, multiple Brazilian law enforcement agencies launched a criminal probe into the NSA and its surveillance activities in the country.

Two months after that, documents leaked by Snowden revealed that the NSA recorded the private communications of Dilma Rouseff, Brazil’s president. Since then, Snowden says, Brazilian lawmakers have requested his assistance in the investigation.

Today, the Brazilian paper Folha De Sao Paulo published an open letter from Snowden to the “the people of Brazil,” wherein the NSA leaker says that he’d like to help Brazil in its investigation, but can’t, given that he’s currently confined to living in Russia.

These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power.

Many Brazilian senators agree, and have asked for my assistance with their investigations of suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens.

I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so --going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America!

Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.

Admittedly, one could interpret that last line as a passive-aggressive request for asylum, but that’s different than literally reapplying for asylum, which some publications implied that he did.

But it would be silly for Snowden to do that, considering Brazil technically hasn’t processed his original asylum request. According to Greenwald, who published many of Snowden’s revelations, that request is still pending.

Currently, Snowden lives in Russia, which granted him asylum for one year until August (but can be renewed indefinitely). However, Putin has forbid him from leaving Russia, which — as Snowden tells it — prevents him from fully cooperating in the Brazil investigation.