Happy in Russia, but I’d love to live in Brazil – Snowden
In an interview with Fantastico, a weekly program broadcast by
Brazilian Globo News, Snowden opened up about his life in Russia
and said he has no regrets over what he has done. The interview
is thought to have been filmed two weeks ago when a selfie of Snowden posing with David Miranda,
Laura Poitras and journalist Glen Greenwald appeared online.
“I felt it was my responsibility to go public,” he told Globo, referring to the classified data on US spy programs that he turned over to the press for publication. “I left the free press to do what it does best: help citizens to make an informed decision about what kind of society they want to live in.”
He told Brazilian TV he is happy and living in Russia is not as bad as people make it out to be. Snowden received temporary political asylum in Russia last August after the US government canceled his passport, effectively stranding the whistleblower in one of Moscow’s airports for over a month. Washington has filed for Snowden’s extradition and has formally charged him under the Espionage Act.
“It’s difficult being away from family and not being able to go home or be an active member of society,” said Snowden.
His temporary political asylum in Russia will expire in two months and the whistleblower admits he has no concrete plans for the future.
“My asylum here runs out in August. If Brazil were to offer me asylum, I would be more than happy to accept,” said Snowden, maintaining he had already filed an application for asylum last year. When told during the interview that the Brazilian government claims it never received an application for asylum, Snowden responded, “That’s news to me.”
“When I was in the [Moscow] airport, I sent applications to various countries. Brazil was one of them. It was an official application.”
For the time being, Snowden says he is taking one day at a time and is able to live a relatively normal life in Russia as he is not widely recognized when he goes out.
“People recognize me when I go to computer stores, but when I’m buying food or looking at magazines, no one recognizes me,” said Snowden, refraining from answering whether or not he wears a disguise when he goes out. When asked if he thinks the Russian government is keeping tabs on him, Snowden said there was probably some sort of surveillance program, but he had not noticed anything.
Snowden has been condemned as a criminal in the US for revealing the espionage antics of the National Security Agency. US Secretary of State John Kerry called the whistleblower a “coward” and a “traitor” last week and called on him to face justice in the US. Snowden, however, argues his actions were always in the best interests of the US.
“You cannot be a traitor unless you have changed your allegiance to an enemy state. My allegiance has not changed. I continue to work for the American government. I don’t want to destroy the government, I want to improve it, make it better.”
His leaked documents informed the public that the US government, in conjunction with European allies, gatherers and stores millions of pieces of metadata indiscriminately from regular citizens. In addition to monitoring ordinary people, the NSA also bugged the personal communications of high-ranking businessmen and world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.