NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has apparently offered Brazil help in uncovering US surveillance of the South American nation – in a fresh plea for asylum.
In an open letter published today by the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, it appears Snowden reckons he can assist in sniffing out NSA spying and protect peeps from foreign agencies. The missive was also distributed by ally David Miranda.
It's reported the Brazilian government swiftly turned down this latest request for protection, however.
Ex-CIA techie Snowden is hiding in Russia on a 12-month visa after blowing the lid off America's internet and phone monitoring programs in June: in a string of leaks to publications, it was subsequently claimed all manner of global communications, from citizens' personal web traffic to world leaders' phone calls, are being snooped on.
"Today, if you carry a cell phone in Sao Paolo, the NSA can and does keep track of your location: they do this 5 billion times a day to people around the world. When someone in Florianopolis visits a website, the NSA keeps a record of when it happened and what you did there," reads the open letter.
"If a mother in Porto Alegre calls her son to wish him luck on his university exam, NSA can keep that call log for five years or more," it continued. "They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target's reputation."
In the missive, it's suggested the South American nation could offer Snowden legal protection from US authorities in exchange for his cooperation. Though it stops short of a formal request, the letter noted that "until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with [Snowden's] ability to speak."
"Many Brazilian senators agree, and have asked for my assistance with their investigations of suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens," the letter continued.
"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!"
Snowden previously appealed to Brazil, and various other nations, for asylum after fleeing to Hong Kong with thousands of sensitive documents swiped from the NSA intranet. Now living in temporary exile in or around Moscow, Snowden has sought a permanent home, even in Western countries such as Germany. Russian President Vladimir Putin had described the whistleblower as an "unwanted gift".
Meanwhile, America's Obama administration is under increasing pressure to defend its spying agency, which claims it's acting in the interests of national security and to thwart terrorism. Yesterday, a US federal judge issued an injunction suspending the mass collection of phone logs by the NSA, though the decision will face a lengthy appeals process likely to reach as high as the US Supreme Court. ®