Edward Snowden: Hollywood Joins Asylum Petition to Ecuador

Edward Snowden

Oliver Stone, John Cusack, Roseanne Barr and other celebrities say the NSA leaker should be given protection from prosecution in the United States.

A who's who of Hollywood’s progressive activists -- including director Oliver Stone and stars John Cusack and Danny Glover -- have joined a cadre of anti-war intellectuals petitioning Ecuador President Rafael Correa to grant political asylum to fugitive National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Since fleeing the United States, Snowden, a private computer consultant working for the supersecret spy agency, has provided the Guardian newspaper with a series of leaks on how NSA monitors domestic phone and Internet traffic and spies on U.S. allies in Europe. Snowden is currently in Moscow, his first destination since Hong Kong, where he took refuge after leaving his U.S. government job in Hawaii. Russia's President Vladimir Putin has said Snowden may be allowed to remain in his country, but only if he refrains from further disclosures of American espionage secrets.

The fugitive petitioned Ecuador for refuge two weeks ago and, according to weekend news reports, may have made similar requests of dozens of countries around the world. It's a bid to find a haven from U.S. prosecutors, who plan to charge him with violation of the Espionage Act. Snowden’s revelations have excited a furor in the United States and Europe, where civil libertarians and others allege the NSA program violates the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and European Community privacy rights.

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Other entertainment industry figures who are asking Correa to grant Snowden a refuge include Amber Heard, Roseanne Barr, Shia LaBeouf and musician Boots Riley. Peace activists Tom Hayden, Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson -- who is married to ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame -- and linguist Noam Chomsky also support Snowden's  request.

U.S. government officials have hinted that Quito’s crucial trade relations with the United States may suffer if the government there shields Snowden from extradition back to America. Ecuador’s relations with Great Britain have suffered since the country’s London embassy granted refuge to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

The petition to Correa on Snowden’s behalf, which currently has 23,000 signatures, reads in part, “Charging someone with espionage, who clearly did not commit espionage, is strong prima facie evidence of political persecution. The unprecedented quantity of whistle-blowers that have been charged under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration suggests that it is applying this law in a completely arbitrary fashion.

"In Snowden’s case, what he has revealed are actions by the NSA that violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against 'unreasonable searches and seizures.' There is no evidence whatsoever that his revelations have in any way threatened U.S. national security or were ever intended to do so. Yet rather than pursue reforms that would protect the rights of people in the U.S. and around the world, the Obama administration again seeks to silence those who have brought these abuses to light.”