Former US Intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in an open letter sought asylum in Brazil and slammed the US Surveillance program as a device for 'economic spying, social control and diplomatic manipulation.'
Snowden, who is a computer specialist, took asylum in Russia back in June after leaking details to the media on extensive internet and phone surveillance by the National Security Agency.
The revelations by Snowden were so massive that besides creating an uproar in the US, the scale of surveillance capabilities also led to a widespread concern in Europe and among several other counties, over the UK and US security services' ability to gather online communications. His revelations have sparked debates on privacy rights across the world.
In the open letter that was first published by Fohla, a Brazilian Daily, the former NSA contractor has asked Brazil for a permanent political asylum in return for his help in assisting the investigations on American surveillance.
"Many Brazilian senators agree, and have asked for my assistance with their investigations of suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens. I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so -- going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America! Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak," the Snowden letter said.
The Snowden letter further decries the NSA for its acts. "The NSA and other spying agencies tell us that for our own 'safety', for Dilma's 'safety', for Petrobras' 'safety', they have revoked our right to privacy and broken into our lives. And they did it without asking the public in any country, even their own," the letter said.
The letter by Snowden comes at a crucial juncture, when Brazil has been openly campaigning for increased privacy laws. In a remarkable resolute on 7 November, Brazil and Germany jointly proposed a preliminary version of a resolution on online privacy at the UN General Assembly that aims to end privacy violations and prevent further privacy incursions.
In the letter Snowden slammed the US and said: "These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power."
With US standing firm on taking Snowden to task for the leak, he will soon have to find a permanent residence as his political asylum in Russia is expected to end by mid-2014. And Brazil, with its recent privacy resolutions, is a politically strong and safe choice for Snowden.