President Cristina Fernandez met with former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden when she visited Moscow in April, according to the Buenos Aires Herald. Snowden became world famous when in 2013 when he revealed the extent of Washington’s global Internet and phone surveillance.
Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), confirmed that the meeting took place. Romero and Ben Wizner are Snowden’s attorneys in the US.
According to BAH piece, “Snowden met with President Fernández. They talked for more than an hour. I don’t know why she has not made public comments about it,” Romero said during an interview with the Herald.
Romero and other top civil rights advocates are taking part in a meeting of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) hosted by the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) in Buenos Aires City.
According to Romero, the president visited Snowden — who has been granted a three-year residency permit by the Kremlim after revealing US surveillance in 2013 — when she travelled to Russia during the last days of April.
“President Fernández de Kirchner was the first head of state to meet with Snowden. They talked for about an hour,” he added.
Romero did not specify the exact date of the encounter and did not make reference to the topics the two discussed. However, he made it clear that Snowden was delighted with her visit. “She made a good impression on him,” he said. “I don’t know why she has not spoken about the meeting.”
The ACLU is providing legal representation to Snowden, who faces charges of espionage in the US for his disclosure of top secret archives.
“It is true that he faces those accusations but days ago a US court declared unlawful the surveillance program, thus he is accused of leaking information about an unlawful practice,” he stressed.
“Americans knew that we were under surveillance but we did not know the real extent,” the expert — who has been leading since 2001 the NGO that has as its mission to protect civil liberties — told the Herald.
The ACLU has been in contact with Snowden since July 2013, shortly after his name and face were plastered on newspapers across the world.
Cristina Fernández travelled to Russia on April 18, two weeks after it was revealed, thanks to the information provided by Snowden that Great Britain had been spying on Argentina.
On the 33rd anniversary of the Falklands/Malvinas War, intelligence documents were published by the online US news outlet The Intercept and Clarín Group’s cable news channel Todo Noticias (TN) on April 2, revealing the British government was engaged in surveillance and cyber operations against the Argentine government in an attempt to shape public opinion against the country’s sovereignty claims over the islands.
Though the Argentine government avoided making a direct reference to the revelation, a week later tension escalated with the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) summoning Argentine Ambassador to London Alicia Castro and the Argentine Foreign Ministry — headed by Hector Timerman, summoning UK Ambassador to Argentina John Freeman afterward.
The Argentine president stayed in Moscow until April 23, when she had a meeting with her Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. If the encounter with Snowden took place as Romero said, the Falklands/Malvinas issue might have been one of the topics of concern for Cristina Fernandez, according to BAH.