Story Summary

NSA surveillance of phones, Internet communications

On December 16, 2005, the New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus (company) hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.

In 2009 the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the NSA had corrected its errors. Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the wiretapping according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon’s Business Network Services to provide information on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis”, as reported by  Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.

Data mining

NSA is reported to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic e-mails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions and travel and telephone records, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

The NSA began the PRISM electronic surveillance and data mining program in 2007. PRISM gathers communications data on foreign targets from nine major U.S. internet based communication service providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — The government’s once-secret program of collecting domestic telephone communication records of Americans was ruled unconstitutional Monday by a federal court.

Judge Richard Leon said the surveillance program of so-called metadata was an apparent violation of privacy rights, ruling in favor of four plaintiffs.

nsa headquarters“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” said the judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

But the judge stayed enforcement of his order barring the government from collecting the phone metadata, pending an appeal by the government. There was no initial indication whether the Obama administration would seek such an appeal.

Leon said the “plaintiffs in this case have also shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits of a Fourth Amendment claim. As such, they too have adequately demonstrated irreparable injury.”

The case is Klayman v. Obama (13-cv-881).

From CNN

Politics
09/26/13

VIDEO: Congress looks to limit NSA’s surveillance powers

Politics
09/06/13

NSA has cracked vital personal encryption codes, reports say

WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Security Agency has secretly succeeded in breaking much of the encryption that keeps people’s personal data safe online, according to reports by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica.

The reports, produced in partnership and published Thursday, are the latest to emerge based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

According to the reports, the NSA, alongside its UK equivalent, Government Communications Headquarters, better known as GCHQ, has been able to unscramble much of the encoding that protects everything from personal e-mails to banking systems, medical records and Internet chats.

The agencies’ methods include the use of supercomputers to crack codes, covert measures to introduce weaknesses into encryption standards and behind-doors collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.

computer-networking-5

Courtesy of computer.howstuffworks.com

“Through these covert partnerships, the agencies have inserted secret vulnerabilities — known as backdoors or trapdoors — into commercial encryption software,” The Guardian states.

The Guardian cites a 2010 GCHQ memo that it says describes a briefing on NSA accomplishments given to GCHQ employees.

“For the past decade, NSA has lead (sic) an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies,” the memo reportedly says. “Vast amounts of encrypted Internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable.”

A second memo is quoted as saying that when the British analysts, who often work alongside NSA officers, were first told about the program, “those not already briefed were gobsmacked.”

For more on this CNN story, click here.

nsa headquartersBy Evan Perez, CNN Justice Reporter

Washington – The Obama administration on Wednesday declassified opinions from a secret court that oversees government surveillance showing the National Security Agency was broadly collecting domestic Internet communications of Americans and misrepresenting the scope of that effort to the court.

The three opinions include one from October 2011 by U.S. District Judge John Bates, who scolded government lawyers that the NSA had, for the third time in less than three years, belatedly acknowledged it was collecting more data than it was legally allowed to.

The focus of the opinion was the government’s admission that for three years, under its authority to monitor foreign communications, it had been collecting information beyond what it gets from Internet service providers, and included data that was entirely domestic.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court estimated the mistaken collection of domestic data, including e-mails and other Internet activity of Americans, totaled 58,000 communications a year.

Report: NSA can see 75% of U.S. web messages

The NSA said the collection was a mistake that went beyond its authority under Section 702 of the Patriot Act.

“This was a situation where there was technological problem that could not be avoided, rather than any overreach” by the NSA, according to a senior intelligence official who spoke with reporters about the matter.

The other FISA Court opinions from November 2011 and September 2012 deal with NSA steps to fix errors it made in over-collecting data and to purge data it shouldn’t have collected.

The issue, the intelligence official said, was immediately raised with the court.

“It was examined and probed deeply. it was remedied and the court determined the program could continue,” according to the official, who did not speak for full attribution.

“This was not a case of an egregious violation by an overeager agency spying on Americans,” the official said.

 

The administration also released documents provided to Congress to persuade lawmakers to reauthorize its surveillance authorities.

The agency has come under pressure from lawmakers of both parties over the sweeping nature of its secret data collection, most recently surveillance that captures telephone metadata related to communications to and from the United States.

That program and the one addressed in the document release on Wednesday were brought to public light through leaks to media outlets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who fled the United States and is now in Russia under temporary asylum. He faces espionage charges.

Their exposure also has generated concern from privacy groups and libertarians.

In 2008, the NSA began collecting what it called “upstream” communications, essentially information that travels across the Internet, separate from the what it receives from Internet service providers that filter data to respond to agency requests.

The NSA is supposed to be targeting foreign communications, such as e-mail addresses it believes relate to foreign intelligence, that have to do with potential terrorism investigations.

The NSA said it made mistakes because of the way data was collected. It couldn’t separate information that was entirely domestic.

Government lawyers won approval from the court after making changes and later deleted years of data because some of it couldn’t be separated from domestic communications.

Washington (CNN) – Before heading to Martha’s Vineyard for a week-long family vacation, President Barack Obama took questions Friday from reporters at the White House.

He hadn’t held a formal, solo press conference since April 30 – and topics ranging from the economy to government surveillance to terror threats arose at Friday’s question and answer session.

The president also announced new measures to instill greater transparency in the government snooping programs that were revealed earlier this summer, which critics said amounted to massive federal overreach.

4:31 p.m. ET: Looking for a breakdown of the president’s news conference? Look no further. From CNN Capitol Hill Reporter Lisa Desjardins: POTUS Newser By the Numbers.

4:02 p.m. ET: CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin notes that Obama didn’t seem to get “prickly” during Friday’s press conference, compared to previous sessions.

The testiest moment came during his defense of Obamacare, during which he went after the GOP for trying to repeal his law without offering their own plan.

4:01 p.m. ET: And that wraps up the president’s news conference – he took eight questions, and spoke for just under an hour.

obama 03-13-13

Courtesy of Fox News

3:58 p.m. ET: On immigration, Obama says he’s well aware that no bill will completely solve the problem of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

“There are very few human problems that are 100% solvable,” he says.

3:56 p.m. ET: Next question, from NPR: How much leverage do you have in getting Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform?
3:55 p.m. ET: Obama says he won’t engage in negotiations with Republicans that include the threat of a government shutdown.

Asked about the last time he spoke with Boehner, Obama said he thought it was probably before Congress left for the August recess last week.

3:53 p.m. ET: CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin asks Obama about the GOP threat of a government shutdown unless Obamacare is defunded.

3:51 p.m. ET: “There are going to be glitches” in implementing Obamacare, the president concedes, but he adds that shouldn’t detract from the law’s benefits.

And he adds that Republican threats to shut down the government unless Obamacare is defunded aren’t in the interest of the American people.

3:49 p.m. ET: Going after Republicans for the first time in the news conference, Obama says the GOP’s “holy grail” is making sure 30 million Americans are uninsured.

He says their assertion is that “people will be better off without it.”

3:48 p.m. ET: Obama is asked to explain why the employer mandate – which required businesses with 50 or more workers to provide employees health insurance – was delayed by a year.

He said that aspect of Obamacare was not the “core” of the law, and that other elements were already being set into motion.

3:47 p.m. ET: In response to a question about when the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack would be charged, Obama said it would take time.

“I also said I’d get Bin Laden, but I didn’t get him in 11 months,” he said.

3:46 p.m. ET: Obama is asked a two-part question by Fox News: one on the terror attack a year ago in Benghazi, Libya, and one about the president’s health care law, which is in the process of being implemented.

3:43 p.m. ET: “We are not going to completely eliminate terrorism,” Obama says in response to questions about current terror threats.

But when pressed about operational tactics used to kill terrorists – namely, drone strikes – Obama refers back to a speech earlier this year.

3:41 p.m. ET: Obama says it’s still accurate to say that al Qaeda’s traditional core in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been reduced, but that threats from affiliate organizations, like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, still remain.

3:41 p.m. ET: The fifth question, from ABC News, is about recent terror threats, and Obama’s campaign assertions that “core al Qaeda” had been decimated.

3:39 p.m. ET: The president’s news conference is ongoing, but House Speaker John Boehner released a response, via spokesman Brendan Buck:

“Much of any public concern about this critical program can be attributed to the president’s reluctance to sufficiently explain and defend it. Transparency is important, but we expect the White House to insist that no reform will compromise the operational integrity of the program. That must be the president’s red line, and he must enforce it. Our priority should continue to be saving American lives, not saving face.”

3:38 p.m. ET: Obama says he’s “comfortable the current system is not being abused,” and that if Americans fully understood the law, they would agree.

3:35 p.m. ET: Obama denies that he’s changed positions on government surveillance, but that he’s now supporting greater transparency in the programs.

He suggests embedding some “technological fixes” that provide another layer of oversight into the surveillance systems.

3:33 p.m. ET: The fourth question, from the Wall Street Journal, goes back to the government surveillance programs. “Why should the public trust you” on the NSA programs, asked Carol Lee.

3:29 p.m. ET: Obama acknowledges the choice of the next Fed chair will be one of this “most important choices” of his second term.

But he says that criticism surrounding Larry Summers, who was the director of the National Economic Council earlier in Obama’s administration, is unfair, and that both potential candidates could successfully fill the role.

“Both are highly qualified candidates,” he said, adding he would make the decision in the fall.

3:27 p.m. ET: A third question, from CBS News, is about the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. Many see two top choices: Larry Summers and Janet Yellen.

For more, watch this from CNNMoney.

3:26 p.m. ET: “I think people have questions about this program,” Obama says, adding it’s important for the government to provide answers about how citizens are being monitored.

“There’s no doubt that Mr. Snowden’s leaks triggered a much more rapid and passionate response than would have been the case if I had simply appointed this review board.”

3:24 p.m. ET: Information about the classified NSA programs has come out in “drips and drabs,” Obama says, and has included a lot of misinformation about how the programs are administered.

“Our laws specifically prohibit us from surveilling U.S. persons,” he says.

3:23 p.m. ET: Asked about the man who leaked classified NSA documents, Obama says, “No, I don’t think Snowden is a patriot.”

He adds he would have rather the NSA programs be discussed without their details being leaked illegally.

3:21 p.m. ET: Obama, asked by NBC about his personal relationship with Vladimir Putin, says “I don’t have a negative personal relationship” with the Russian president.

He adds that analysis of the two leaders’ body language often focuses on Putin’s posture. “He’s got a kind of slouch like a bad kid in the back.”

3:17 p.m. ET: Obama says the U.S. must “take a pause” in dealing with Russia to assess where the relationship stands.

He notes that while he won’t attend a bilateral meeting with Putin in Moscow, he will attend the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg in September.

And he adds a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is not on the table, despite a new Russian law banning “homosexual propaganda.”

3:16 p.m. ET: First question, from the Associated Press, is about the U.S.-Russia relationship in the wake of Edward Snowden being granted asylum in the country.

“There’s always been some tension” since the Cold War ended, Obama said, noting there was both cooperation and competition between the two nations.

UPDATE: Here’s the administration’s white paper, laying out their legal rationale for the government surveillance programs.

3:14 p.m. ET: Lastly, Obama says he’ll create a group of outside experts to review the technology used in the government surveillance programs.

Obama said “we can and must” be more transparent in the government surveillance programs.

3:12 p.m. ET: Third on Obama’s list: greater efforts toward telling Americans what the government is doing in relation to domestic surveillance. One step is creating a web site that will be a “hub” for greater transparency.

3:10 p.m. ET: The second area Obama wants greater transparency: the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISC).

He said the court should hear from people raising civil liberties concerns.

3:09 p.m. ET: Obama spelling out four areas where he’d allow for additional transparency in the NSA surveillance programs.

The first – Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows for collection of metadata in phone calls.

3:08 p.m. ET: Obama says it’s “important to ask questions” about privacy amid revelations of government surveillance programs.

“It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs. The American people have to have confidence as well,” he said.

3:06 p.m. ET: Obama, beginning his news conference, says he’s focused both on delivering his economic message while fulfilling his “number one duty as president” – keeping Americans safe.

3:04 p.m. ET: The White House delivered a two-minute warning to the beginning of Obama’s news conference.

3:02 p.m. ET: Reporting from Moscow, CNN’s Phil Black says the relationship between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin is at “an all-time low.”

Expect Obama to answer questions about the U.S.-Russia relationship Friday.

3:01 p.m. ET: Obama is expected any second. Here’s a shot of the East Room Friday.

2:58 p.m. ET: Reporting from the East Room, Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin says reporters are expecting six questions or so over the course of an hour-long press conference. Obama is known for giving lengthy answers during questioning sessions.

2:54 p.m. ET: What might the president be asked Friday?

What would you ask Obama? Let us know in the comments below.

2:51 p.m. ET: When Obama takes questions in the East Room Friday, it will be his third formal press conference of his second term, and the fifteenth time he’s taken questions from reporters.

In all, he’s completed 124 press availabilities as president, with 25 full-length press conferences.

3:47 p.m. ET: In response to a question about when the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack would be charged, Obama said it would take time.

“I also said I’d get Bin Laden, but I didn’t get him in 11 months,” he said.

3:46 p.m. ET: Obama is asked a two-part question by Fox News: one on the terror attack a year ago in Benghazi, Libya, and one about the president’s health care law, which is in the process of being implemented.

3:43 p.m. ET: “We are not going to completely eliminate terrorism,” Obama says in response to questions about current terror threats.

But when pressed about operational tactics used to kill terrorists – namely, drone strikes – Obama refers back to a speech earlier this year.

3:41 p.m. ET: Obama says it’s still accurate to say that al Qaeda’s traditional core in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been reduced, but that threats from affiliate organizations, like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, still remain.

3:41 p.m. ET: The fifth question, from ABC News, is about recent terror threats, and Obama’s campaign assertions that “core al Qaeda” had been decimated.

3:39 p.m. ET: The president’s news conference is ongoing, but House Speaker John Boehner released a response, via spokesman Brendan Buck:

“Much of any public concern about this critical program can be attributed to the president’s reluctance to sufficiently explain and defend it. Transparency is important, but we expect the White House to insist that no reform will compromise the operational integrity of the program. That must be the president’s red line, and he must enforce it. Our priority should continue to be saving American lives, not saving face.”

3:38 p.m. ET: Obama says he’s “comfortable the current system is not being abused,” and that if Americans fully understood the law, they would agree.

3:35 p.m. ET: Obama denies that he’s changed positions on government surveillance, but that he’s now supporting greater transparency in the programs.

He suggests embedding some “technological fixes” that provide another layer of oversight into the surveillance systems.

3:33 p.m. ET: The fourth question, from the Wall Street Journal, goes back to the government surveillance programs. “Why should the public trust you” on the NSA programs, asked Carol Lee.

3:29 p.m. ET: Obama acknowledges the choice of the next Fed chair will be one of this “most important choices” of his second term.

But he says that criticism surrounding Larry Summers, who was the director of the National Economic Council earlier in Obama’s administration, is unfair, and that both potential candidates could successfully fill the role.

“Both are highly qualified candidates,” he said, adding he would make the decision in the fall.

3:27 p.m. ET: A third question, from CBS News, is about the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. Many see two top choices: Larry Summers and Janet Yellen.

For more, watch this from CNNMoney.

3:26 p.m. ET: “I think people have questions about this program,” Obama says, adding it’s important for the government to provide answers about how citizens are being monitored.

“There’s no doubt that Mr. Snowden’s leaks triggered a much more rapid and passionate response than would have been the case if I had simply appointed this review board.”

3:24 p.m. ET: Information about the classified NSA programs has come out in “drips and drabs,” Obama says, and has included a lot of misinformation about how the programs are administered.

“Our laws specifically prohibit us from surveilling U.S. persons,” he says.

3:23 p.m. ET: Asked about the man who leaked classified NSA documents, Obama says, “No, I don’t think Snowden is a patriot.”

He adds he would have rather the NSA programs be discussed without their details being leaked illegally.

3:21 p.m. ET: Obama, asked by NBC about his personal relationship with Vladimir Putin, says “I don’t have a negative personal relationship” with the Russian president.

He adds that analysis of the two leaders’ body language often focuses on Putin’s posture. “He’s got a kind of slouch like a bad kid in the back.”

3:17 p.m. ET: Obama says the U.S. must “take a pause” in dealing with Russia to assess where the relationship stands.

He notes that while he won’t attend a bilateral meeting with Putin in Moscow, he will attend the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg in September.

And he adds a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is not on the table, despite a new Russian law banning “homosexual propaganda.”

3:16 p.m. ET: First question, from the Associated Press, is about the U.S.-Russia relationship in the wake of Edward Snowden being granted asylum in the country.

“There’s always been some tension” since the Cold War ended, Obama said, noting there was both cooperation and competition between the two nations.

UPDATE: Here’s the administration’s white paper, laying out their legal rationale for the government surveillance programs.

3:14 p.m. ET: Lastly, Obama says he’ll create a group of outside experts to review the technology used in the government surveillance programs.

Obama said “we can and must” be more transparent in the government surveillance programs.

3:12 p.m. ET: Third on Obama’s list: greater efforts toward telling Americans what the government is doing in relation to domestic surveillance. One step is creating a web site that will be a “hub” for greater transparency.

3:10 p.m. ET: The second area Obama wants greater transparency: the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISC).

He said the court should hear from people raising civil liberties concerns.

3:09 p.m. ET: Obama spelling out four areas where he’d allow for additional transparency in the NSA surveillance programs.

The first – Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows for collection of metadata in phone calls.

3:08 p.m. ET: Obama says it’s “important to ask questions” about privacy amid revelations of government surveillance programs.

“It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs. The American people have to have confidence as well,” he said.

3:06 p.m. ET: Obama, beginning his news conference, says he’s focused both on delivering his economic message while fulfilling his “number one duty as president” – keeping Americans safe.

3:04 p.m. ET: The White House delivered a two-minute warning to the beginning of Obama’s news conference.

3:02 p.m. ET: Reporting from Moscow, CNN’s Phil Black says the relationship between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin is at “an all-time low.”

Expect Obama to answer questions about the U.S.-Russia relationship Friday.

3:01 p.m. ET: Obama is expected any second. Here’s a shot of the East Room Friday.

2:58 p.m. ET: Reporting from the East Room, Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin says reporters are expecting six questions or so over the course of an hour-long press conference. Obama is known for giving lengthy answers during questioning sessions.

2:54 p.m. ET: What might the president be asked Friday?

What would you ask Obama? Let us know in the comments below.

2:51 p.m. ET: When Obama takes questions in the East Room Friday, it will be his third formal press conference of his second term, and the fifteenth time he’s taken questions from reporters.

In all, he’s completed 124 press availabilities as president, with 25 full-length press conferences.

By Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — The public got its first look at the secret court order that authorized the government’s vast collection of records of domestic telephone calls as the Obama administration moved Wednesday to try to boost public confidence in the National Security Agency’s program.

The order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court lays out the rules under which the program operates, mirroring the descriptions that U.S. officials have given in the weeks since the program was disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The order stipulates that a small number of analysts and supervisors are authorized to access the records for the limited purpose of matching them against phone numbers linked to terrorism.

National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Also disclosed were two letters to Congress, in 2009 and 2011, explaining that the government was using the Patriot Act and other provisions to justify bulk collection of U.S. phone records and, until 2011, email “to and from” information.

But while the safeguards contained in the order may address some public concerns about the program’s costs, U.S. intelligence officials continued to have difficulty convincing members of Congress about its benefits.

Under questioning at the Senate Judiciary Committee, officials remained unable to come up with more than one relatively minor terrorism-financing case in which the phone records had proved instrumental.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), said the Obama administration had failed to convince lawmakers or the public that the collection of U.S. phone records is a crucial tool.

“It’s been far too difficult to get a straight answer about the effectiveness” of the program, Leahy said. “I think the patience of the American people is beginning to wear thin, but what has to be of more concern in a democracy is the trust of the American people is wearing thin.”

Asked how many terrorism cases were cracked using U.S. phone records, John “Chris” Inglis, NSA’s deputy director, answered that a dozen domestic terrorism investigations had made use of the records. But Inglis could cite only one in which the records were instrumental: a group of men from San Diego who sent $8,500 to Al Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia.

Document: NSA surveillance disclosed

One of the defendants in that case was discovered when a known terrorist phone number in Somalia was compared against the database, Inglis said.

Leahy questioned whether that record met the balancing test between privacy and security.

“We could have more security if we strip-searched everybody that came into every building in America,” he said. “We’re not going to do that. We have more security if we close our borders completely to everybody; we’re not going to do that. If we put a wiretap on everybody’s cellphone in America, if we search everybody’s home. But there are certain areas of our own privacy that we Americans expect, and at some point, you have to know where the balance is.”

MOSCOW — Russia has given U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden documents to allow him to leave a Moscow airport and enter the rest of the country while his temporary-asylum request is considered, Russian news media reported Wednesday.

This comes eight days after Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia, where the former National Security Agency contractor arrived from Hong Kong after revealing sweeping U.S. electronic surveillance programs to the news media.

snowden

NSA leaker Edward Snowden says, “I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

Since arriving at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on June 23, Snowden had been unable to leave the airport’s transit area because the United States revoked his passport. He faces espionage charges in the United States.

Last week, a Russian lawyer assisting Snowden said he would receive a certificate showing that the asylum request is under consideration, and that certificate would allow him to legally leave the airport’s transit area and enter the rest of the country.

It’s still not clear whether Russia will grant the temporary-asylum request. But if it does, Snowden would be able to live in Russia — and even travel abroad — for at least a year, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said last week.

Washington has no extradition agreement with Russia and FBI agents who work at the U.S. Embassy have no authority to make arrests.

From CNN 

National & World News
07/16/13

Snowden applies for temporary asylum in Russia

MOSCOW — American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia on Tuesday, Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told CNN.

WikiLeaks, a group that facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information through its website, also posted on its official Twitter account Tuesday that Snowden applied for a “temporary protection visa” in the country. Snowden is charged with espionage in the United States and apparently has been holed up in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport for about three weeks.

Kucherena, a lawyer with a Kremlin advisory body, told the state-run news agency RIA Novosti that Snowden wrote the request in his presence and then gave it to a Federal Migration Service representative at the airport.

Snowden said Friday that he wanted temporary asylum in Russia while awaiting safe passage to Latin America, where he seeks longer-term refuge.

Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, left Hawaii for Hong Kong earlier this year and leaked documents to the media that exposed U.S. mass surveillance programs.

snowden

NSA leaker Edward Snowden says, “I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

After he publicly identified himself as the leaker last month, he departed Hong Kong for Russia, where he is believed to have been staying in a transit area of the Moscow airport.

He technically has been a free man while at the airport but has been unable to travel after U.S. authorities revoked his passport when the United States charged him with espionage.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

MOSCOW — American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden met with human rights activists and lawyers Friday in a transit zone of a Russian airport, in his first public appearance since he left Hong Kong last month.

He has asked rights groups to lobby the Russian government to grant him temporary asylum, Russian Human Rights Watch representative Tanya Lokshina said. Snowden also said he wants to move to Latin America once he is able to do so, she said.

A photograph provided by a Russian Human Rights Watch staffer at the meeting shows him sitting behind a desk, looking much as he did when last photographed.

The former National Security Agency contractor is believed to have been holed up in a transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since leaving Hong Kong for Russia on June 23.

snowden

NSA leaker Edward Snowden says, “I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

The meeting with Snowden began at around 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET).

A CNN team at the airport saw about half a dozen people — including Russia’s human rights ombudsman and representatives of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Russian human rights groups — enter a door marked “Private” in Terminal E. Police and security officers then kept the media at a distance.

Sergei Nikitin, head of Amnesty International’s Moscow office, who was at the meeting, said he was pleased to voice the organization’s support for Snowden in person.

“We will continue to pressure governments to ensure his rights are respected — this includes the unassailable right to claim asylum wherever he may choose,” he said in a statement.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

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