Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: IT Security in the Snowden Era

Snowden would be better off in Brazil, says Ellsberg

The former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers says Brazil should help Edward Snowden regardless of any potential retaliation from the US

The man who leaked the Pentagon Papers has said that it would "admirable" if the Brazilian government granted asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst who leaked the secret US government study of the Vietnam War to the press in 1971, told Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo that Dilma Rousseff's government should support the whistleblower responsible for the biggest leak in modern US history.

"He made a great sacrifice. Snowden is in danger of death anywhere, maybe less in Russia, but I think he would be in a more democratic and open place," Ellsberg told the newspaper.

When asked whether Brazil would risk retaliation from the US by agreeing to help Snowden, Ellsberg agreed that antagonizing the richest and most powerful country in the world would not be an easy decision to make.

"Brazil could face sanctions. But no country has the right to fully spy on private communications of citizens around the world," the activist added.

After unveiling a string of reports related to US spying on Brazil, Snowden wrote an open letter to the Brazilian government in December, asking for asylum for the second time.

"Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak," Snowden wrote at the time.

"Many Brazilian senators agree, and have asked for my assistance with their investigations of suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens. 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," he added.

After the letter has been published, the president of the Foreign Relations and National Defence Council, Ricardo Ferraço, said he had been actively working alongside other senators to facilitate Snowden's asylum in Brazil.

"Snowden's permanence in Brazil would or will be an extraordinary advantage, but the political asylum cannot be granted in exchange for information. The asylum is, above all, a humanitarian gesture and that is the democratic tradition of our country," Ferraço said at the time.

According to the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations, an official response would only be issued when Edward Snowden submits a formal request for asylum and the open letter does not qualify as such.

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