Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency who leaked classified documents regarding the agency's surveillance program, has apparently broken his silence for the first time since fleeing Hong Kong for Moscow eight days ago.
In a letter addressed to the Ecuadorian government, Snowden thanked Ecuador for helping arrange passage to Russia and said he remained committed to publishing information about the NSA's PRISM data collection program. Snowden, 30, has been charged by the U.S. government with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property. He has reportedly applied for asylum in Russia.
"I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest," Snowden wrote in a letter to President Rafael Correa seen by Reuters. "No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world. If any of those days ahead realize a contribution to the common good, the world will have the principles of Ecuador to thank."
"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 man-hunt costing me my family, my freedom to travel, and my right to live peacefully without fear of illegal aggression," he continued.
In another statement, posted to the WikiLeaks Web site, Snowden claims the U.S. government was illegally persecuting him for revealing the controversial program:
On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic "wheeling and dealing" over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.
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.
While the statement was attributed to Snowden, some phrasing in the original posting led some to question its authorship. As TechDirt points out, it's quite unlikely that an American would use the phrase "the United States of America have been...", opting instead for the singular verb "has." The statement has since been edited to replace the "have" with "has."