LONDON – National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden invoked George Orwell and warned of the dangers of unchecked government surveillance Wednesday in a televised Christmas message to the British people that reflected his growing willingness to take a public role in the debate he ignited.
Speaking directly into the camera from Moscow, where he took refuge after leaking vast troves of information on NSA spying, Snowden said government surveillance methods far surpassed those described in Orwell’s novel 1984.
“The types of collection in the book – microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us – are nothing compared to what we have available today,” he said. “We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person.”
BEIRUT (AP) — A Russian plan for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to avert Western missile strikes bogged down Tuesday when Moscow rejected U.S. and French demands for a binding U.N. resolution with “very severe consequences” for non-compliance.
The surprise Russian proposal, which Syria and the United States both accepted, would put President Bashar Assad’s regime’s chemical stockpile under international control before its eventual dismantling. The initiative — also cautiously endorsed by Britain and France — appeared to offer a way out of a crisis that raised the prospect of U.S.-led military action against Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack last month.
But the plan ran aground as the world powers haggled over the crucial element of how to enforce it. Wary of falling into what the French foreign minister called “a trap,” Paris and Washington are pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution to verify Syria’s disarmament. Russia, a close Assad ally and the regime’s chief patron on the international stage, dismissed France’s proposal as unacceptable.
MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin hopes to send a delegation of Russian lawmakers to the United States to discuss the situation in Syria with members of Congress, the Interfax news agency reported Monday.
Russian legislators Valentina Matvienko and Sergei Naryshkin proposed that to Putin, saying polls have shown little support among Americans for armed intervention in Syria to punish its regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack.
The lawmakers said maybe U.S. legislators can be persuaded to take a “balanced stance” on the issue. Putin supported the initiative, which would require formal approval by the Foreign Ministry.
Russia has sent legislators to the U.S. before to try to persuade Congress about pending legislation. But sending a delegation to Washington to discuss Syria’s civil war could be seen as a publicity stunt, given the strong positions Moscow already has taken as a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s regime. The U.S. has accused Russia of providing military support to Assad that has allowed Assad to cling to power during Syria’s civil war.
MOSCOW – National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden left the transit zone of a Moscow airport and entered Russia after authorities granted him asylum for one year, his lawyer said today.
Anatoly Kucherena said that Snowden’s whereabouts will be kept secret for security reasons. The former NSA systems analyst was stuck at Moscow‘s Sheremetyevo airport since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23.
“He now is one of the most sought after men in the world,” Kucherena told reporters at the airport. “The issue of security is very important for him.”
The U.S. has demanded that Russia send Snowden home to face prosecution for espionage, but President Vladimir Putin dismissed the request.
Edward Snowden plans to seek asylum in Russia, a Parliament member who was among those meeting with the NSA leaker said Friday.
Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov told reporters of Snowden’s intentions after he and a dozen other prominent officials and activists met with Snowden in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where Snowden has been marooned since June 23.
Snowden is believed to have been stuck in the airport’s transit zone since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23, as he negotiates for asylum in another country.
The activists included Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International’s Russia office, and Tatiana Lokshina, deputy head of the Russian office of Human Rights Watch. Also taken into the meeting room were Russia’s presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, prominent attorney Genri Reznik, and Nikonov.
MOSCOW (AP) – NSA leaker Edward Snowden accepted Venezuela‘s offer of political asylum, according to a posting Tuesday on the Twitter account of a Russian lawmaker with close ties to the Kremlin. However, the tweet disappeared a few minutes later.
It was not possible to immediately reach Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee who has acted as an unofficial point-man for the Kremlin on the Snowden affair.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The father of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden said in an interview that while he has not had recent contact with him, he is reasonably confident his son would return to the United States if certain conditions were met.
Those conditions could include not detaining Snowden before trial, not subjecting him to a gag order and letting him choose the location of his trial, NBC News said on Friday.
The NBC report added that Lonnie Snowden plans to make those points in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to be sent through his lawyer later on Friday. Representatives for the Justice Department could not be reached immediately for comment on the letter.
MOSCOW — Intrigue deepened on Monday over the whereabouts of Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former National Security Agency contractor accused of espionage, when he did not leave Moscow on a planned flight to Havana, one day after Hong Kong frustrated his American pursuers by allowing him to fly out of the territory.
Mr. Snowden’s vacant seat on the Havana flight raised the possibility that the Russian government had detained him, either to consider the demands by the Obama administration to intercept him and return him to the United States or perhaps to question him for Russia’s own purposes.
The authorities in Hong Kong said Mr. Snowden boarded an Aeroflot flight to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport that arrived on Sunday afternoon. But he was never photographed in Hong Kong and has not been seen publicly or photographed since his reported arrival in Moscow. Arriving passengers on that flight, interviewed at the airport, said they could not confirm that he had been aboard.
The situation remained infuriating for American officials, who have charged Mr. Snowden with illegally disclosing classified documents about American surveillance programs.
MOSCOW — Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for leaking classified documents about global American surveillance, fled his Hong Kong hide-out for Moscow on Sunday aboard a commercial Russian jetliner, in what appeared to be the first step in an odyssey to seek political asylum in Ecuador.
In a day of frustrated scrambling by American officials who are seeking Mr. Snowden’s extradition — and had annulled his passport in attempts to foil any escape — he boarded an Aeroflot jetliner in Hong Kong that reached Moscow on Sunday afternoon. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Mr. Snowden was in a Moscow airport transit area, apparently awaiting a connection to another country.
Ecuador’s foreign minister said that Mr. Snowden had submitted a request for asylum, an assertion corroborated by WikiLeaks, the organization that discloses government secrets and has come to the assistance of Mr. Snowden. In a statement on its Web site, WikiLeaks said “he is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.”
MOSCOW — A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 10 tons (11 tons) streaked at supersonic speed over Russia’s Ural Mountains today, setting off blasts that injured some 500 people and frightened countless more.
The Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement that the meteor over the Chelyabinsk region entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph) and shattered about 30-50 kilometers (18-32 miles) above ground.
The fall caused explosions that broke glass over a wide area. The Emergency Ministry says more than 500 people sought treatment after the blasts and that 34 of them were hospitalized.
“There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people’s houses to check if they were OK,” said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, the biggest city in the affected region.