Snowden breaks his silence to blast Obama administration
Fugitive says Obama administration is blocking his bid for asylum and leaving him 'stateless'
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has broken his silence for the first time since fleeing Hong Kong, blasting the Obama administration and saying he remained free to make new disclosures about US cyberspying.
Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the US 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 China, Russia, Brazil, India and Ireland. 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 US passport.
Snowden, 30, had not been heard from in the eight days since he flew to Moscow from Hong Kong. Snowden has sought asylum in Ecuador. In an undated letter sent to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, he said the US was illegally persecuting him for revealing its electronic surveillance programme, Prism, but made it clear he did not intend to be muzzled.
"I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest," Snowden, who had been a contract employee for the US National Security Agency, said in the letter.
His letter continued: "While the public has cried out support of my shining a light on this secret system of injustice, the Government of the United States of America responded with an extrajudicial manhunt costing me my family, my freedom to travel and my right to live peacefully without fear of illegal aggression."
In his WikiLeaks statement, Snowden lashed out at Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden for pressing Ecuador to turn him away.
"This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extra-legal penalty of exile," he said.
"Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right," Snowden said. "A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum."
US Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre rejected Snowden's allegation that he was marooned, "since he is still a United States citizen and his country is willing to take him back".
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Snowden could stay in Russia on one condition.
"He must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips," he said.