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Snowden not afraid, no regrets

11 July 2013, 10:03

Rio de Janeiro - Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden is not afraid and has no regrets about his revelations of US espionage activities, the reporter who first published the secret documents said Wednesday.

Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist for Britain's Guardian newspaper, also said in an interview with AFP that Venezuela seems like a "logical" asylum destination for Snowden.

"He's anxious about the next step... but feels really good about the debate he provoked," said Greenwald.

"I hadn't spoken to him in two weeks since he got out of Hong Kong until Saturday, when I spoke to him and then again yesterday [Tuesday]," he added.

"He's very calm, without any fear and definitely happy about the choices that he made," said the journalist, who lives in Rio de Janeiro.

Currently stranded in Moscow, Snowden has applied for asylum in more than two dozen countries in a bid to evade US espionage charges over his disclosure of US initiatives to gather Internet and phone data.

The 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor has gained a sympathetic ear from some leftist Latin American countries. Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have all offered him asylum.

Greenwald said he did not know which country would eventually accept the US fugitive, but suggested Venezuela was the most likely.

"I didn't spend any time talking about his asylum plans. I don't really know what he's planning on doing in terms of that," the 46-year-old US blogger said.

"To me, Venezuela seems like the most logical choice because it's bigger and stronger than the other two countries that offered asylum and will be able to protect him," he added.

I use encryption

On Tuesday, the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website said that Snowden had not yet formally accepted asylum in Venezuela as was claimed by a top Russian lawmaker in a Twitter posting that was later deleted.

Pro-Kremlin lawmaker Alexei Pushkov sparked confusion when he tweeted on Tuesday that Snowden had agreed to an offer from Caracas. He deleted the posting after about 30 minutes.

Greenwald spends much of his time in Brazil, where he lives with a Brazilian partner who was unable to join him permanently in America due to legal restrictions.

New York-born and Florida-raised, he specialised in litigating constitutional and civil rights cases before shifting in 2005 towards blogging, book-writing and what he calls "adversarial journalism".

In four best-selling books, most recently With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, he has sought to expose threats to freedom of information.

He entered journalism through his own blog, Unclaimed Territory. He later wrote for Salon.com before contributing to The Guardian in August 2012.

Greenwald said he had many more stories to write based on Snowden's documents.

"I just wrote with O Globo three stories about massive [US] spying first in Brazil and then Latin America," he noted.

"There's a lot more stories like that, big stories about what the NSA is doing inside the United States. These stories take time, but there's a lot more coming."

He said he is fully aware that the US government is keeping him under close surveillance.

"I always assume that I'm being monitored and when I use computers or anything like that, I make sure I use encryption and I'm very careful," he said.

Even though some US politicians have called for Greenwald's arrest on grounds his reporting amounted to a "crime", he insisted: "I have never been directly threatened".

Asked whether he viewed Snowden as more than a source, Greenwald replied: "He is a source, but I have been very clear about the fact that I have a lot of admiration for what he did, a lot of respect.

"I think what he did was heroic. I care about him as a person and hope for the best for him."



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