United States Urged to Respect the Principle of Asylum as it Navigates Snowden Case
New York City – As accused NSA-leaker Edward Snowden reportedly leaves the Moscow airport under an agreement with Russian authorities, Human Rights First cautions that how the United States acts regarding the principle of asylum matters and sets an example for the rest of the world.
“The United States has a long history of providing refuge to victims of religious, political, ethnic, and other forms of persecution,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “This tradition reflects a core component of this country’s identity as a nation committed to freedom and respect for human dignity. As the U.S. government pursues its legal case against Snowden, it should be cautious that its rhetoric and actions do not undermine the important principle of asylum. We urge the United States to navigate the challenges posed by Snowden’s temporary status in a way that is mindful of the broader impact of its words and actions.”
Reports today indicate that Russia has extended “temporary asylum” to Edward Snowden, a form of humanitarian protection from deportation that differs from the kind of asylum status in the United States. For example, under Russian migration law, temporary asylum can be granted to individuals who may not be able to qualify for the full refugee status. This includes those who cannot demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group membership upon returning to their home country. These individuals can nevertheless not be expelled or deported from Russia for “humanitarian reasons.”