Recent revelations of America’s top-secret National Security Agency snooping program have made more than a few nations uncomfortable.
The NSA program monitors world-wide internet activity and intercepting telecommunications data. Its existence, and much of the material it has poached, were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by the Brazilian newspaper O Globo a few weeks ago.
Evidence emerged that the NSA had developed close relationships with large internet companies, notably Microsoft, Facebook and Google, and was spying on Latin American countries – Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico in particular.
The Latin American countries have demanded to know why they were being spied on. President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina might have been speaking for them all on July 9 when she said, “A shiver ran down my back when I learned that they are spying on all of us.”
Alarm bells also rang in Europe, where allies of the US were named as being on the list of nations the NSA spied upon.
“I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations,” the President of the European Parliament, Martin Shultz, said. “If they prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on European-US relations. On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regards to these allegations.”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also expressed outrage, saying “These acts, if they are confirmed, would be absolutely unacceptable.”
Snowden has been charged by US federal prosecutors with espionage and stealing government property. Snowden, however, has no intention of returning to face the charges, saying “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
Numerous refusals have narrowed Snowden’s asylum options to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia. Until one of them accepts the risk of incurring the United States’ wrath, Snowden remains in limbo at Moscow’s airport.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, declined the White House’s request to expel the whistleblower.
During a question-and-answer session with students he said, “From the start, we made him [Snowden] an offer: ‘If you want to stay [in Russia], go ahead, but you will have to cease your political activities. We have certain relations with the United States and we don’t want you to harm the relationship with the US with your activities’,” Putin said.
“He [Snowden] said, ‘No.’
“You laugh but he was serious. He said, ‘No, I want to continue with my activities, I want to fight for human rights, I think that the US is violating certain international norms, is intruding into private life and my goal is to fight against this.’ We said, ‘Fine, but then we won’t be involved. We have our own things to fight against.'” – Compiled by Sara Sachawars from agency reports
Top photo of Berlin rally in support of Edward Snowden from Mike Herbst’s Flickr photostream.