Snowden asylum application should be considered, Amnesty says

Former CIA agent fits definition of political refugee, says Richard Boyd Barrett

A television screen shows former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a news bulletin at a cafe at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport last week. Photograph:Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

A television screen shows former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a news bulletin at a cafe at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport last week. Photograph:Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

Wed, Jul 3, 2013, 01:00



Former CIA analyst Edward Snowden is at risk of ill-treatment if he returns to the US and any asylum claim he makes should be processed, Amnesty International Ireland has said.

In addition, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has called on the Government to offer the US citizen asylum in Ireland.

Mr Snowden, who released data on covert US surveillance activities, including its alleged bugging of European Union offices, has sought asylum in 21 countries, including Ireland. He is currently in Moscow.

Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said the organisation believed Mr Snowden “is at risk of ill-treatment if returned to the USA”.

“Mr Snowden has the right to present an asylum claim in any country he enters, and to appeal any decision,” he said.

“It is important due process is fully respected in the event of any asylum claim. No other state should interfere in allowing him to make that claim.”

Mr Boyd Barrett said Mr Snowden “fits any meaningful definition of a political refugee”.


‘Prospect of reprisal’
“It is already clear that he faces a very real prospect of reprisal by the US government for acting on his conscience and exposing their utterly unacceptable spying activities,” he said.

“In the programme for government, the Coalition promised legislation that would encourage and protect whistleblowers acting in the public interest. They have yet to bring forward this legislation but here is their opportunity to show they were serious about offering protection and support to people who blow the whistle in the public interest.”

Mr Boyd Barrett said by any definition of the public interest, Mr Snowden has acted in that interest, at great personal risk. “Our Government should now do the right thing and offer him the asylum he has asked for,” he said.

Meanwhile, European Commission president José Manuel Barroso has reiterated the commission’s concern over alleged US surveillance of the EU. Addressing MEPs in Strasbourg, he said the commission expected “clarity and transparency from partners and allies”.He said Catherine Ashton, head of EU’s diplomatic arm, had raised the matter with the US.