In a Spanish-language letter to Ecuador obtained by Reuters, Edward Snowden goes into full-on victim mode, threatening to release further documents while portraying the United States as a transgressor of international law:
I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest ... No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world.... While the public has cried out support of my shining a light on this secret system of injustice, the Government of the United States of America responded with an extrajudicial man-hunt costing me my family, my freedom to travel, and my right to live peacefully without fear of illegal aggression.
The accusations of "extrajudicial" manhunts and "illegal aggression" have raised some eyebrows. President Obama's pursuit of Snowden has been limited to attempts at extradition, which, by definition, is a legal process. So far as we know, there have been no Batman-style attempts at rendition by the United States.
It's a translated letter, you say. True enough. But WikiLeaks has released a new statement, also apparently from Snowden (though there are major doubts about that, too) in his native English. He says much the same thing.
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.
That clarifies Snowden's intentions somewhat. But it doesn't resolve his central pickle, which is that he's fallen into a situation much larger than himself and beyond his own control.
Beyond Snowden's somewhat iffy grasp on international law, by threatening to release new material, the former intelligence contractor has also done the one thing that Russian President Vladimir Putin said would prevent him from gaining asylum in the country.