Shortly after speaking at length with NBC’s Brian Williams, Edward Snowden sat down with Brazil’s Globo TV to discuss the reporting on the documents he revealed, his current legal predicament and his hopes for further asylum.
As the interviewer noted, more than 1.2 million Brazilians signed a petition asking their president to provide Snowden with a safe haven. Snowden responded:
If Brazil wants to offer asylum, if they want to stand for human rights, if they want to protect the rights of whistleblowers, I think that’s a good thing, and I would certainly encourage and support it whether it’s in my case or the case of anyone.
But that’s not his first choice — ideally, he said, he’d be back in the United States, even if that meant going to trial.
I would love to face court in the US, if they reformed the Espionage Act to allow people to make a real defense. Right now the Espionage Act is a very unusual law. It prohibits people from making certain defenses. I can’t even argue my case to the judge and jury, I can’t say that I was serving the public interest.
They don’t see a difference between someone who sells a list of agent names, to have them executed, to an enemy country during a time of war and someone who takes information about government abuses and gives them to the press to report in a responsible way. But as it stands now, there is no chance for me to make a case. There is no fair trial waiting for me at home.
Snowden believes that the problems surrounding use of the Espionage Act are one facet of a more widespread reluctance to recognise the importance of whistleblowers:
I’d like to hope there would be a chance for a better public discussion about how we protect whistleblowers from the retaliation of government in the United States and other countries around the world. But until then, I’ll have to wait.
Explaining that his fellow colleagues were similarly concerned about the intelligence communities’ abusive overreach, he said:
The problem are not the rank and file employees, the problem are the senior officials who are setting policies and they’re making bad decisions. They’re making bad policies, and they’re creating unlawful programs that they know can’t be defended, so they use secrecy to protect themselves from embarrassment and accountability, rather than to protect the nation from any kind of real threat. And that’s a critical problem that we need to reform.
Watch the full interview, which also includes journalist Glenn Greenwald, here.