Former National Security Agency contractor and fugitive from the U.S. government Edward Snowden says the Obama administration is denying him his right to seek asylum, according to a statement released by anti-secrecy agency WikiLeaks.
Snowden, who left the U.S. before leaking top-secret details of U.S. surveillance programs and was charged with espionage, abandoned Hong Kong for Moscow on June 23.
He has broken his silence for the first time by issuing a statement through WikiLeaks. In the statement he criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for ordering his vice president to pressure leaders of the nations of which he had requested asylum to deny his asylum petitions.
"This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me," Snowden said in the statement.
Russian President Putin: Snowden Can Stay, If He Behaves
In his statement Snowden accused the Obama administration of using citizenship as a "weapon."
"Although I am convicted of nothing, it [U.S. government] has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody, a right to asylum."
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Snowden's statement follows revelations that he applied to seek asylum in Russia on Sunday.
President Vladimir Putin has said Snowden is welcome in Russia only if he stops his disclosure of alleged abuses by U.S. intelligence agencies. The President has refused U.S. requests to hand over the fugitive to U.S. authorities.
Snowden originally applied for asylum in Ecuador, but the Ecuadorian president said his government could only consider an application from him if he was on Ecuadorian soil.
But with his U.S. passport canceled and an Ecuadorian travel document rescinded, Snowden is now stranded at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport accompanied by WikiLeaks activist Sarah Harrison.