Snowden fires potshots at Obama’s claims to human rights

Edward Snowden

America’s first black president, Barrack Obama, is contending with a wave of angry civic voices in South Africa, where he is on an official tour, and where many are accusing him of lacking a credible African policy.

Yet the worst challenge for Obama is not the street marchers, it is coming from far away Russia where, Edward Snowden, speaking from his hide out at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, has lobbed an explosive grenade at the political conduct and human rights claims of President Obama who he accuses of deploying “the old, bad tools of political aggression” and “using citizenship as a weapon” in order to silence him.

Snowden piled charges against the American president that will resonate in many parts of the developing world, especially on Obama’s alleged lack of belief or faith in the principles of human rights, around which western democracies have defined their modern civilizations.

Highlighting on the right to asylum, he said: “For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country.”

In the same statement, Snowden accused the Obama administration of a disdainful attitude towards the rights to free expression of citizens, saying, his home government is “afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.”  Snowden also accused  Vice President Biden of pressuring foreign leaders to deny him extradition.

Below is Snowden’s statement as it appears on the Wikileaks Web site:

One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat from my government for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my 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.

For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it 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. The right to seek asylum.


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  • Olufnke Adetayo

    Mr. Snowden, while I am able to see what you want to say, strictly speaking I am not sure that this is a human rights issue in a strict sense of human right. I am a Nigerian American. So I know both Nigeria and the US very well an in good detail. So please do not think that this is one of the run of the mill posts. The world is in a war situation. We are under threat from global terrorism. The terrorists have gone bananas-using the most advanced technology any rich nation can buy. I know Boko Haram in my own original country. Some terrorist groups are even richer than some countries , so they possess the wherewithal for lethal attack on citizens and nations. Terrorism is now a franchise. And the owners of this franchise no longer use conventional means. Now these are the questions: do I support that any country should pry into citizens’ privacy? No. Do I support that any country should pry into the privacy of potential terrorists? Yes I do. I know this is a delicate risk just in case this “potential terrorist” turns out not to be a terrorist. This huge risk is a complex situation we all live in in a modern society under attack from terrorism. Do I have an answer to a situation where a potential terrorist’s privacy is pried into but the potential terrorist turns out not to be a terrorist? I confess that I do not have an answer. This is the complex reality of modern society I am talking about. And really there are no straight answers and this is a grey area of potential abuse by even the most democratic modern state. And is it best to strike and dismantle terrorism before it strikes? Yes, I believe given global experience that this is the best method. Do not give terrorism a breathing space. You are gone if you do. Now for you Mr. Snowden: what you have been accused of is a violation of your oath of office on your job and as a citizen of the US. Mr. Snowden, I am half Nigerian and half American, I am putting it to you that you violated your oath of office. With your eyes open, and with your hands, you signed up for a job. You pledged a moral commitment to the job, you have violated that moral commitment. While you and we as humans have fundamental human rights, as a human, as a citizen your moral violation of your own moral commitment when you took a job bothers me. There are aspects of modern societies that are built on faith, obligation and duty. You have absolutely the right to claim that you are not obliged to be faithful to an “evil” state. But it will be absurd to claim that you have a moral right to violate your own willing moral commitment which it has not been shown that you signed up for under duress. Mr. Snowden, I am a private citizen. I do not accept that a state should pry into my affairs, but as we say here in the US, I look you straight in the face and I put it to you that you violated yourself and your willing moral commitment when you signed up for the job at the point you stayed on the job, collected your so-called data and you made those data public. I am not saying that you (in this situation) Mr. Snowden now sell those data. However, I am saying that people in your situation do. That is the truth. So please do not beat around the bush as we say in Nigeria. So what is the human right issue when a citizen sells government “evil” data for a living? It is immoral to say under a moral commitment that “I will not do X”, and to end up doing X. My position does not absolve the US state of whatever culpability you think it is guilty of. My position is a challenge to your moral self. You violated me as human and as a citizen for if this is not said we are in a situation where as citizens we can no longer trust ourselves-and that is nothing but anarchy. A gentleman’s word is his bond. As we say in the US, please look at me straight in the face and tell me why-given what you did- I should leave my daughter, wife or partner with you while I make a trip outside my home and while asking you to help take care of my family in my absence. That is the point Mr. Snowden. I believe that you will betray me and I will never trust you. A defense of Mr. Snowden is welcome, please read my post CLOSELY before rushing to a defense. Each of the points ought to be recognised.