Brazil's government is not considering granting asylum to former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden, because he has made no formal request to the country for asylum, media reports said, citing foreign ministry officials.
In an "Open Letter to the Brazilian People" first published on Tuesday by Folha de S. Paulo, a Brazilian daily, Snowden said that he was “inspired” by the reactions to his revelations about spying by the U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA, in Brazil, and that he is willing to assist the country's investigations into suspected crimes against its citizens. But, instead of making a formal request for asylum, Snowden said that his freedom to help the probe is limited by his legal status, and that only a permanent asylum in a country would help him to do so.
And because Brazil, at this point, has not received a fresh application for asylum from Snowden, providing him asylum is not being considered, a foreign ministry official said, Reuters reported.
On Wednesday, a Folha report, citing a foreign ministry official, also reported that though the government welcomes Snowden’s calls to mobilize in defense of human rights and privacy, the government does not wish to enter into a trading game with Snowden on the issue. The report said that the government respects the sovereignty of other countries including the U.S. and that it has no interest in violating it in exchange for information, as the government is not interested in investigating alleged spying by the U.S. government.
The foreign ministry official also pointed out that President Dilma Rousseff would not make any official declaration on Snowden's asylum because the former U.S. defense contractor’s open letter was not directed to the government or to the president, Folha reported.
The official added that Brazil's government has condemned the NSA's actions and considers them “unacceptable.” On Snowden's offer to help uphold human rights and privacy issues, the official said the government is working for the cause and that any help offered in this regard would be welcome, Folha reported.
Brazil and Germany had moved a resolution in the U.N. General Assembly in November condemning the indiscriminate surveillance by NSA, noting that it violated basic human rights.
In July, Snowden had sought asylum from a dozen countries, including Brazil, when he was stuck in the transit lounge of a Moscow airport after the U.S. prevented him from leaving the country by revoking his passport, and before Russia gave him temporary asylum.
However, Brazil, did not consider the application at the time as it was not sent by Snowden personally but by Amnesty International on his behalf. A government source had reportedly said at the time that Brazil will not consider generic applications for asylum, referring to Snowden’s asylum requests to multiple countries.
Brazil's federal police who are probing the NSA’s alleged spying on Rousseff, based on Snowden’s revelations, had reportedly sought Snowden’s testimony through their foreign office in Russia, where Snowden is presently living.
Meanwhile, David Miranda, partner of Glenn Greenwald, who first reported the Snowden leaks, began an online petition seeking asylum for Snowden in Brazil. Several members of the Brazilian senate and politicians have also urged the country's government to consider asylum for Snowden, but opposition leaders have criticized the move, stating that such an action would do Brazil more harm than good.
On Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the possibility that the U.S. would grant amnesty to Snowden if he turned over the documents in his possession, Reuters reported.