Even In Snowden-Friendly Brazil, Asylum May Be 'Bridge Too Far' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Even In Snowden-Friendly Brazil, Asylum May Be 'Bridge Too Far'

Play associated audio

Should they or shouldn't they? That's the question Brazilians are asking themselves after Edward Snowden's "open letter" lauding Brazil's role in protecting privacy rights and alluding to his hand in uncovering spying on their president.

"Today, if you carry a cellphone in Sao [Paulo], the NSA can and does keep track of your location," wrote Snowden, 30, who is living in temporary asylum in Russia. "They do this 5 billion times a day to people around the world."

Last month, a group of Brazilian senators came out in support of the former NSA contractor. And even Luis Roberto Barroso — a judge on Brazil's highest court — spoke in his defense.

"He gave an unequivocal service to governments around the world and U.S. citizens," writes Hélio Schwartsman in Folha de Sao Paulo. " ... I am of the opinion that, if he asks, asylum should be granted."

But not all columnists agree. Reinaldo Azevedo wrote in the right-wing Veja magazine's blog: "Snowden is a traitor to his own country. ... What does Brazil gain by giving him shelter?"

"It is very unlikely asylum will be given," says Pedro Arruda, a political analyst at Sao Paulo's Catholic University. "President Dilma Rousseff has already expressed herself. Or rather, her silence has given her opinion."

Brazil's government has indeed been circumspect. It says that Snowden has not formally asked for asylum, so it hasn't considered the matter — hardly rolling out the welcome mat.

Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center, says Rousseff already showed her displeasure by postponing a state visit to the U.S. Rousseff also is pushing United Nations action on global Internet privacy issues.

Several months ago, Rio de Janeiro-based journalist Glenn Greenwald reported in the Brazilian media that the NSA was spying on Rousseff's personal emails and on the state oil company Petrobras. The allegations were based on documents Greenwald got from Snowden.

Rousseff "obviously was very upset about the revelations, but values Brazil-U.S. relations and knows how important it is to cultivate that relationship," Sotero says, "especially in that moment that Brazil is starting to face some tough economic [issues] and needs to integrate its economy with advanced countries, especially the United States."

Julia Sweig, director of Latin America studies for the Council on Foreign Relations, says while Snowden is a popular figure in Brazil, his fate is not at the top of the agenda.

"I don't think the Brazilian public is, by and large, looking to pick a big public fight with the United States," she says, adding that asylum for Snowden would be a "bridge too far" for Brazil.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

For Wintry Weather, An Especially Cold And Snowy Tale

This week we celebrated not only Christmas, but also the solstice — the shortest day of the year. In honor of this wintry weather, author Edward Carey recommends his favorite winter fairy tale.
NPR

Nutmeg Spice Has A Secret Story That Isn't So Nice

Nutmeg is a feel-good holiday spice. But it once caused serious bloodshed and may have even been a reason the Dutch were willing to part with Manhattan in the 1600s.
WAMU 88.5

Special Prosecutors Should Handle Civilian Shootings By Police, Holmes Norton Says

Norton says mayors and governors could stem anger over civilian shootings by police by appointing special prosecutors to handle them.
NPR

Doubts Persist On U.S. Claims On North Korean Role In Sony Hack

Some cybersecurity researchers continue to voice skepticism about the FBI's claim that North Korea was behind the attack on Sony Pictures. That's not unusual in a crime that often uses misdirection.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.