Edward Snowden revealed then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Secretary of State John Kerry pressured countries that protect whistleblowers and asylum seekers to deny him entrance. In an interview with MSNBC’s Brian Williams, Snowden said he applied for asylum to countries such as allies France and Germany but every time it got pulled.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC: you paint a portrait of what some of us knew, and that was that you were a thoroughly American kid in your upbringing. you wake up every day in Russia, you go to sleep every night in Russia. Are you actively seeking to get out? are you, as has been reported, looking for asylum elsewhere?
EDWARD SNOWDEN: Well, this is not an actively seeking, this is not a new thing. And this is important history, especially for those people who don’t like me. For those people who doubt me, who have heard terrible things about me. It was never my intention to end up in Russia.
I was going to Latin America and my final destination was hopefully going to be Ecuador. I applied for asylum in 27 different countries around the world. Places like France and Germany, places like Norway, that I felt the U.S. government and the American public could be comfortable, that was fine for a whistleblower to be in, and yet every time one of these governments got close to opening their doors, the phone would ring in their foreign ministries and on the other end of the line would be a very senior American official.
It was one of two people. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry or then vice president Joe Biden. And they would say, look, we don’t know what the law is, we don’t care if you can do this or not, we understand that protecting whistleblowers is a matter of human rights and you could do this if you want to. But if you protect this man, if you let this guy out of Russia, there will be consequences. We’re not going to say what they’re going to be, but there will be a response.
I continue, to this day, to say, look, if the United States government, if these countries, are willing to open the door, that is not a hostile act. That is the act of a friend. If anything, if the United States continue is so concerned about Russia, right, shouldn’t they be happy for me to leave? And yet we see they’re trying so hard to prevent me from leaving. I would ask you, why is that?