Edward Snowden has accused US President Barack Obama of "pressuring the leaders" of countries where the fugitive former US intelligence contractor sought political asylum.
“On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic "wheeling and dealing" over my case,” Snowden said in his first public statement since fleeing Hong Kong eight days ago and posted late Monday on the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
“Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President [Joe Biden]to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions,” Snowden said.
“This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me,” he added.
Snowden, a former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who has a US warrant out for his arrest on charges of disclosing details of a secret government surveillance program, has reportedly been hiding out in a transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport together with Sarah Harrison, a lawyer with the WikiLeaks.
Snowden’s statement came amid reports that he had applied for political asylum in Russia and several other countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Snowden could stay in Russia, if he wanted to, but must stop leaking secrets and doing other activities to harm the United States.
Nikolai Patrushev, head of Russia’s Security Council, told the state-owned Rossiya-24 television network Monday that Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), and US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller were ordered by their respective presidents to “remain in constant contact and find ways” to resolve the standoff.