Edward Snowden Looks to Make a Deal With Brazil

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 17 2013 9:56 AM

Edward Snowden Would Rather Be In Brazil

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Edward Snowden wants out of Russia

Photo by The Guardian via Getty Images

Edward Snowden, currently living in Russia temporarily and with no foreseeable future back in the United States, has set his sights on Brazil as his next home. In an open letter to Brazilians on Tuesday, the NSA leaker offered to fully cooperate with their government as it investigates just how much the United States is spying on them. But in exchange, Snowden wrote, he'd need permanent political asylum:

I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so—going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America! Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.
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Snowden's decision to reach out to Brazil makes sense, and not only because the weather in Sao Paulo this time of year sure beats Moscow's. Less than a month ago, Brazil joined Germany in pushing for the United Nations Human Rights Committee to reaffirm the "human right to privacy" in a digital age, and called for the organization to look into the impact of the mass digital snooping of the kind that the NSA has taken part in. Brazilian President Dilma Roussef, who's phone and email has been monitored by the NSA, has also made no secret of just how she feels about the agency's spying, postponing a visit to the United States earlier this year and then telling the U.N. General Assembly that the NSA had disrespected the "national sovereignty" of her country.

Still, it remains far from certain that Roussef would be willing to take Snowden in given what that would mean for Brazilian-U.S relations. As of this morning, the Brazilian government wasn't commenting.

Snowden, meanwhile, was granted asylum by Russia for only one year, leaving a rather major question mark looming over his not-too-distant future. After outing himself to the Guardian last year while in Hong Kong, he had originally hoped to find refuge somewhere in South or Central America. Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua all seemed like possibilities, but ultimately he remained stuck in international limbo at the Moscow airport with no way out until the Russians granted him a one-year visa. He had also reached out to Brazil at that time, although he got no response.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.