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Snowden grateful to Russia for opportunity to live in freedom

December 23, 2013, 11:38 UTC+3

He said that he "mastered Russian language enough to wish Merry Christmas"

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RIO DE JANEIRO, December 23. /ITAR-TASS /. Edward Snowden is “grateful for the opportunity to live in freedom and participate in a major global debate” that he has “thanks to a year of political asylum guaranteed by Russia”. This the former US intelligence officer said in an interview at the online TV show “Fantastico”, aired Sunday night on the Brazilian TV channel Globo.

“I have a lot of time for reading, I have been closely following the developments in the world,” Snowden answered to the question about how he lives Russia. He said that he “mastered Russian language enough to wish Merry Christmas”.

Ex-employee of NSA and CIA stressed that he doesn’t regret having disclosed secret data about the work of US intelligence. This could have provided journalists with up to 200,000 secret documents, NSA sources say.


“Important first step”

Snowden believes that the report of independent experts on electronic espionage published in the United States with the consent of the White House should be considered as “an important first step”, which, however, is not enough to solve the problem of illegal surveillance. The report has been prepared in order to “restore public confidence in espionage (intelligence services)” according to Snowden. He added that the most important thing in the report is that “the veterans of fighting terrorism recognized that they have not seen any evidence that mass surveillance allowed to prevent terrorist attacks”.

Snowden noted that programs used by US intelligence services for electronic surveillance are aimed not to fight terrorism, but are aimed at “diplomatic manipulations and obtaining economic and domination benefits”. “Since September 11 (2001), the tactics of US government consist in yelling about terrorism and keeping the population in fear, in making people conform to policy of extremeness,” he said.

The fugitive was sure he “could not possibly get a fair trial in my country”. The problem was, he said, that U.S. law did not distinguish between a whistleblower who made illegal activity known to people “and a spy secretly selling documents to terrorists”. One of the political problems for the U.S. was that “embarrassing” the government remained the gravest offence.


How Snowden found himself in Russia

Snowden flew to Hong Kong, and from June 23 lived in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. On August 1, he obtained temporary asylum in Russia.

Earlier this month, Snowden sent the Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo ‘An Open Letter to the People of Brazil’ saying “until a country grants permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak”.

Brazilian president Dilma Roussef declined to comment on the letter, saying Brazil had not seen an official asylum request.

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