The leaders of the Congressional intelligence committees said Sunday they oppose any possibility of clemency for Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who released thousands of documents shedding light on the agency’s constant global surveillance.
Nearly five months after the first reports based on the documents were published, Snowden – who is living in Russian under temporary asylum – requested clemency through a German member of parliament. Snowden also suggested he would be willing to testify before Congress about NSA abuses and help German authorities investigate allegations of U.S. spying on their country.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) have been forceful defenders of the intrusive and secretive surveillance programs, many of which collect private information from US citizens and companies without their knowledge.
The revelations, which have appeared chiefly in The Washington Post and the Guardian, have stoked public outrage and harmed U.S. diplomatic relations with many key allies.
“The president should stop apologizing, stop being defensive,: the New York Republican said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives not just in the United States but in France, Germany and throughout Europe.”
Last week, there were news reports that the NSA has conducted monitored millions of European phone calls, including tapping the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The federal government has access to a massive database of 25 years of AT&T phone data, NBC News has confirmed, as part of a secret program in which phone company employees work alongside local and federal law enforcement agents to track the phone calls of suspected drug dealers.
As first reported by the New York Times, the Hemisphere Project is at least six years old and has access to the data from every call coming through an AT&T switchboard back to 1987. The pool grows by billions of calls a day, includes information on the location of callers, and is larger than the controversial database maintained by the NSA, which goes back five years.
whistleblower Edward Snowden, questioned under Terrorism Act
The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London‘s Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.
David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.
Miranda was released, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.
Since 5 June, Greenwald has written a series of stories revealing theNSA‘s electronic surveillance programmes, detailed in thousands of files passed to him by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The Guardian has also published a number of stories about blanket electronic surveillance by Britain’s GCHQ, also based on documents from Snowden.
While in Berlin, Miranda had visited Laura Poitras, the US film-maker who has also been working on the Snowden files with Greenwald and the Guardian.
“He is a transit passenger in the transit zone and is still there now,” Putin said. “Mr. Snowden is a free man. The sooner he selects his final destination point, the better both for us and for himself.”
Putin said Snowden’s arrival in Russia was “completely unexpected.”
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A plane took off from Moscow Monday headed for Cuba, but the seat booked by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden was empty, and there was no sign of him elsewhere on board.
An Aeroflot representative who wouldn’t give her name told The Associated Press that Snowden wasn’t on flight SU150 to Havana. AP reporters on the flight couldn’t him.
The Interfax news agency also quoted an unidentified Russian security source in Moscow as saying that Snowden wasn’t on the plane.
The airline said earlier Snowden registered for the flight using his U.S. passport, which American officials say has been annulled.
Snowden arrived in Moscow on Sunday from Hong Kong, where he had been hiding for several weeks to evade U.S. justice. Ecuador is considering Snowden’s asylum application.
After spending a night in Moscow’s airport, the former National Security Agency contractor — and admitted leaker of state secrets — had been expected to fly to Cuba and Venezuela en route to possible asylum in Ecuador.
WASHINGTON – The bizarre journey of Edward Snowden is far from over. After spending a night in Moscow‘s airport, the former National Security Agency contractor and admitted leaker of U.S. state secrets was expected to fly to Cuba and Venezuela en route to possible asylum in Ecuador.
But the U.S. says Moscow should hand Snowden over to Washington.
Several Russian news agencies were saying early Monday that Snowden had checked in for a flight to Havana.
Snowden, also a former CIA technician, fled Hong Kong on Sunday to dodge U.S. efforts to extradite him on espionage charges. Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, said his government had received an asylum request. He added Monday that Ecuador’s decision about the request involves “freedom of expression and … the security of citizens around the world.” He did not say how long it would take Ecuador to decide.
The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks has said it would help Snowden.
Ecuador has rejected the United States’ previous efforts at cooperation, and has been helping WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange avoid prosecution by allowing him to stay at its embassy in London.
Snowden was on a flight from Hong Kong that arrived in Moscow Sunday and was booked on a flight to Cuba Monday, the Russian news agencies ITAR-Tass and Interfax reported, citing unnamed airline officials.
Patino said, “We know that he’s currently in Moscow, and we are … in touch with the highest authorities of Russia.”
Snowden’s story took a dramatic turn Sunday when he flew from Hong Kong to Moscow, aided by the international anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
The United States is asking Cuba, Ecuador and Venezuela not to let in Snowden, who leaked information about NSA surveillance programs, a senior administration official told CNN on Sunday. The United States also is asking those countries to expel him if they do admit him, the official said.
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But officials said there were problems with the request.
“Since the documents provided by the U.S. government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR government has requested the U.S. government to provide additional information,” the Hong Kong government said in a statement. “… As the HKSAR government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr. Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.”
The statement did not say what additional information Hong Kong needed from the United States, nor did it say where Snowden was headed.
U.S. federal prosecutors have charged Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person.
The latter two allegations amount to espionage under the federal Espionage Act.