NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden is safely sheltered in Moscow -- for now. Russia has granted him a temporary refugee visa, which will expire in mid-2014. And while Snowden might want to stay there -- he’s reportedly filed for a permanent refugee visa -- he is also considering where to go next.
Brazil, which was among his earlier options for asylum, has become Snowden's dream destination. The South American country received an open letter from the leaker praising the government and making a case for their common interests.
Snowden did not ask explicitly for asylum. He offered to help and assist Brazil's campaign against cyber-espionage and privacy violations -- which appears to some as an attempt to establish a relationship that might lead to an asylum offer.
However, Brazilian media are not buying it. Folha de São Paulo, the newspaper that published Snowden’s letter in its entirety, argued that the Brazilian government had no interest in directly investigating the NSA, and therefore it does not want a relationship with Snowden. “The Brazilian government has no intentions of granting asylum to [Snowden] in exchange of information to that effect,” wrote columnist Valdo Cruz.
“Brazil respects the sovereignty of other countries, and therefore will not ‘seek revenge’ on the U.S.,” he added.
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However, Cruz noted that Brazil does want to fight cyber-espionage and violations of privacy, and it wants to ensure that something like the NSA's spying on Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, never happens again. “The Brazilian government is already in action in this regard and counts on Snowden’s help, which will always be welcome,” he wrote.
On the other hand, Jornal do Brasil quoted David Miranda, former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner, who broke the news of the NSA monitoring Brazilian officials and companies, saying that bringing Snowden to the country would be the best way to “break the U.S.”
“If Brazil grants asylum, the U.S. won’t be able to do anything," he said. "We are thinking of helping a person, a hero for the world, and the key for Brazil to break the U.S.,” he said. “It wouldn’t be just a response to the surveillance, but also a point of national pride.”
Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Globo was more cautious and reported that the Brazilian government has not spoken out or made an official decision, mostly because there has not been any formal request for asylum. Folha de São Paulo wrote that President Dilma Rousseff was very surprised to receive Snowden’s letter and was discussing with her administration what position to take.
Congressman Ronaldo Caiado said “it does not make sense” to offer Snowden asylum. “It will bring a lot more problems to Brazil than benefits in the fight against espionage,” he said.