Russia on Friday faced the wrath of the United States after granting asylum to fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who was settling into a safe house after over five weeks marooned in a Moscow airport transit zone. In an exclusive interview for the Voice of Russia, Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of the Icelandic parliament formally representing the citizens’ movement and the Pirate Party, talked about the duration of Snowden’s stay in Russia, the whistleblower’s family matters, and the US government’s behavior towards Russia and ex-CIA contractor himself.


Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum for just one year but it may be extended for the same period every year. So, it could be an ongoing thing. The story is yet to develop. But in your opinion, how long do you think he will stay in Russia?

 I have no idea. Of course Mr. Putin said that he could not carry on leaking if he has asylum in Russia. So, I guess it depends on whether there will be any gag put on Snowden or not. But it is important to recognize that the information that Snowden has been providing to the general public around the world is something that is necessary to have out in the public domain.

 Some of it depends on what Edward Snowden will do as well. Snowden’s father is hoping to travel to Russia to see his son and if he does end up getting a visa and if he does come, will he return to the US or do you think that maybe he will prefer staying with Edward here in Russia? Do you think his mother and his girlfriend could also join him in Russia?

 I have no idea. I don’t know these people personally. So, that would only be speculations. So, I don’t know much about that. But I think it is exceptionally important that we recognize that with his courage we were able, including lawmakers such as I and from all over the world and the general public, to see the fact that our democracy has been destroyed. This has to be counterbalanced because if you as a journalist cannot protect your source, if a doctor cannot protect the history of his patients, or a lawyer – his clients, then we don’t have the sort of democracy we think we live in.

 Earlier Washington has threatened Russia withsanctions if it dared granting Snowden asylum, but now we see asylum has been granted. So, what do you think the White House will be able to do now?

 I don’t know. It will be interesting to follow what they will do. What they should do is recognize that they have come completely overboard. Even the person that supports the patriot act said that it was never intended to be used the way the NSA has been using it. So, I guess maybe it is high time for the US government to look into the legislative body and try to figure out how they can with some dignity step back into the course of democracy instead of going really fast into the course of fascism.

 At what point in time do we give up our liberty for security?

 Exactly. It is the same thing with the airport security. I mean everybody knows. Recently at the airport in the States a friend of mine accidentally brought a knife through security to peel food with and they take teddy bears of children and strip old people and they don’t detect knives and guns. So, it is a complete false security. But what we need to do, because I know there are a lot of good people all over the world including the US that have been trying to counterbalance what is happening there, we need to figure our both a global understanding that our online privacy is as sacred as it is offline and we need to create a narrative so that general public understands how incredibly deep this invasion is into our privacies.