From Litvinenko to Assange and Snowden: US no longer a safe place to seek asylum

Author: us-russia
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From Litvinenko to Assange and Snowden: US no longer a safe place to seek asylum
Published 26-06-2013, 10:54
Some ten years ago, people around the world who were persecuted by their governments for their beliefs or views were seeking asylum in the United States. The trend has changed; the US is no longer a safe haven for people. Recent reports have shown that now US citizens themselves are seeking shelter from the US government, as the US tries to prosecute more people around the world. It all started with Fischer, then came Assange and Kiriakou, now Snowden. Who is next on the US wanted list?

2013: Edward Snowden, former technical assistant for the CIA, former NSA employee, leaked information on US government's electronic surveillance program PRISM, under which the NSA and FBI were accessing central servers of nine American Internet companies (Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Skype, AOL, Apple, YouTube and others), extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs. Venezuela has claimed that it can grant political asylum to Snowden.

2012: John Kiriakou, a former CIA analyst and former counter-terrorism consultant, was pled guilty to disclosing classified information about a fellow CIA officer that connected the covert operative to a specific operation, and that CIA was involved in torture programs. Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison on January 25, 2013.

2012: Julian Assange, an Australian editor, activist, publisher and journalist, founder of WikiLeaks, which publishes submissions of secret information, has been granted diplomatic asylum by Ecuador. He has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for two years. Assange has been subject to a European Arrest Warrant in response to a Swedish police request for questioning in relation to a sexual assault investigation, while the US want his extradition for publishing classified US military and diplomatic documents.

2012: Yonas Fikre, an American citizen who alleges that he was detained and tortured overseas at the behest of the U.S. government — and is now marooned as a result of the U.S. no-fly list — has filed for political asylum in Sweden. In April 2010 Muslim-American Fikre went to Sudan to set up a company. But he was summoned to the US Embassy where he was forced to become an FBI informant on Muslim activities in the region. According to Fikre the FBI agents asked him about the people and activities at As-Saber Mosque, where he prayed, about the imam and people who attend the mosque.

2012: Former Marine of the U.S. Army Patrick Downey appealed to the President of the Russian Federation asking to grant him political asylum. Patrick said that at home he was facing severe punishment for the material he intended to publish about the U.S. support of the Georgian leader Saakashvili, including the war with South Ossetia. Downey used to work at the American embassy, but disappointed in the civil service decided to take a job as a private teacher of English in Georgia, where he managed to obtain documents, stating that Georgia sent troops into South Ossetia not without the involvement of the US capital.

2010: Virginia Vallejo is a Colombian writer, journalist, media personality, television anchorwoman, sought asylum in the United States for criticizing the government for crimes, receiving funding from drug lords and conspiracies with presidents committed by her terrorist billionaire lovers. Later, she published a book "Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar" where she describes multiple connections between various drug loads and many of the country’s most prominent politicians.

2010: Alexander Barankov, a Belarusian former policeman sought asylum in Ecuador. He claimed of corruption by Belorussian police, and faced charges of bribery and fraud. The Belarusian authorities requested his extradition in 2010 and 2012, but both requests were rejected by the Ecuadorian National Court of Justice.

2009: Manuel Rosales, a Venezuelan educator and politician and was the most prominent opposition candidate in the 2006 presidential election, was charged with corruption in Venezuela. He denied the charges and sought political asylum in Peru.

2007: Irakli Okruashvili, a Georgian politician, former Minister of Defense under President Mikheil Saakashvili, was briefly arrested on the charges of corruption, money laundering and abuse of office after his scandalous comeback to political scene and creating the opposition party. He was granted political asylum in France, although he was sentenced to 11-year prison term in Georgia in absentia.

2005: Bobby Fischer, an American chess grandmaster and the eleventh World Chess Champion, was granted full citizenship in Iceland, after the US tried to seek income tax from his winning and prohibiting to defend his title in Yugoslavia, which led to confrontations with the US government. The US revoked his passport after he made increasingly anti-American and anti-semitic statements. Since then Mr Fischer lived in Hungary, Germany, the Philippines and Japan. In 2005 he moved to Iceland.

2004: Ilyas Akhmadov, self-exiled former foreign minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was granted political asylum in the US. During the Second Chechen War Akhmadov and his colleagues in the separatist government dispersed and went into hiding, with some again taking up arms against the Russians. Akhmadov himself left Chechnya. He repeatedly criticised suicide bombings and hostage-takings by Chechen extremists and has campaigned for peace talks to end the war, this stance helped him to get asylum.

2003: Boris Berezovsky, self-exiled Russian businessman and oligarch who moved to the UK, which granted him political asylum. In Russia he was convicted in absentia of economic crimes. Before his death in 2013 he had sent a letter to the Russian president Vladimir Putin, asking for permission to return to Russia and asking "forgiveness for his mistakes."

2003: Akhmed Zakayev, former Deputy Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was granted political asylum in the UK. Russia accused him of having been involved in a series of crimes including involvement in acts of terrorism during the First Chechen War. The British court rejected the extradition request, declaring that the accusations were politically motivated.

2001: Alexander Litvinenko, former officer of Russian FSB secret service, who publicly accused Russian authorities of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky and Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. He fled with his family to London and was granted asylum in the United Kingdom, where he worked as a journalist, writer and consultant for British intelligence services.


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