US whistleblower Edward Snowden, living in Russia since leaking a trove of classified documents showing the scope of post-9/11 US government surveillance, wants to claim asylum in France, according to an interview published Saturday.
Former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistle-blower Edward Snowden speaks via video link from Russia as he takes part in a round table meeting on March 15, 2019, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. (Photo: VCG)
Recalling he had already applied for French asylum in 2013 under former president Francois Hollande, Snowden, whose memoirs Permanent Record are to be published on Tuesday, told France Inter radio he hoped French President Emmanuel Macron would grant him that right.
"The saddest thing of this whole story is that the only place an American whistleblower has the chance to be heard is not in Europe but here [in Russia]," Snowden said in a trailer of the interview to be broadcast in its entirety Monday.
To date, more than a dozen countries have turned down requests to take in the 36-year-old, leading him to question their reasoning and "the system we live in... Protecting whistleblowers is not a hostile act."
Snowden's memoirs are to be published in some 20 countries and regions. He once worked for the CIA in addition to the National Security Agency, but has been living in Russia since his 2013 megaleak.
Though praised as a whistleblower and a privacy advocate by his defenders, the US accuses Snowden of endangering national security and espionage charges, which could send him to prison for decades.