A banner supporting Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, is displayed at Central, Hong Kong's business district, Thursday, June 20, 2013. A WikiLeaks spokesman who claims to represent Snowden has reached out to government officials in Iceland about the potential of the NSA leaker applying for asylum in the Nordic country, officials there said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
WASHINGTON (CBS) -- In his first statement since he left Hong Kong a week ago, former government contractor Edward Snowden says he has left the country after, "It became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth."
The American analyst-turned-leaker is currently believed to still be at Moscow's international airport, where he is believed to have applied for political asylum to remain in Russia.
In his statement, released Monday by Wikileaks, Snowden accuses President Obama of ordering Vice-President Biden to pressure country leaders to deny his asylum petitions.
Snowden alleges that the Obama administration is using, "citizenship as a weapon."
"Although I am convicted of nothing," Snowden writes, "It has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum."
According to Snowden, it's not whistleblowers like himself or Bradley Manning that the Obama administration is afraid of, but the public.
"It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised -- and it should be."
Snowden ends his statement by saying he is unbowed in his convictions.
Several hours later, WikiLeaks announced that Snowden is seeking asylum in 19 more countries, including China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, India and several European countries. The asylum requests could not be independently authenticated.
But the Reuters news agency reports that Norway's foreign minister, Frode Andersen, says his is one of the nations to which Snowden has applied.
Also on Monday, Mr. Obama responded to reports that the United States has been spying on the European Union, by suggesting that every nation engages in that kind of covert intelligence gathering.
"They're going to be trying to understand the world better and what's going on in world capitals around the world, from sources that aren't available through the New York Times or NBC News," Mr. Obama said during a press conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he stopped on the last leg of his seven-day trip to Africa.
CBSNews.com's Stephanie Condon contributed to this article
Edward Snowden's statement released on July 1, 2013:
One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.
On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic "wheeling and dealing" over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.
This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.
For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.
In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised -- and it should be.
I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.
Edward Joseph Snowden
Monday 1st July 2013
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