updated 7/17/2013 6:47:48 PM ET 2013-07-17T22:47:48

"Obviously he isn't going to Venezuela or Ecuador or Bolivia or Nicaragua or Russia or wherever he ends up because he thinks they're bastions of civil liberties protections," Greenwald said.

On NOW with Alex Wagner Wednesday, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald explained why Edward Snowden had chosen to flee the U.S. and seek refuge in countries with questionable human rights records, saying the intelligence analyst didn’t want to “end up in a cage like Bradley Manning.”

Manning, 25–currently on trial for leaking government documents to WikiLeaks–was held for eight months at a Marine corps base in Quantico, VA, in conditions that the United Nations special rapporteur on torture called “seriously punitive.”

“Obviously he isn’t going to Venezuela or Ecuador or Bolivia or Nicaragua or Russia or wherever he ends up because he thinks they’re bastions of civil liberties protections,” Greenwald said. “He’s going there because as Daniel Ellsberg said in a Washington Post Op-Ed, this country is no longer safe for whistle-blowers.”

Snowden’s decision to apply for asylum in those countries was borne of necessity, Greenwald argued, because the intelligence analyst doesn’t  have the luxury of fleeing to Western countries where a fear of the U.S. prevails.

“Of course he has to go somewhere. There are very few places in the world willing to stand up to the United States and demand his rights under the law be protected. His choices are very limited and he’s trying to make sure that he doesn’t end up like Bradley Manning, put in a cage, rendered incommunicado. He wants to participate in the ongoing debate that he helped provoke and that’s what’s guiding his choices.”

Greenwald also cleared up some uncertainty about whether Snowden is planning to leak more documents in the future.

“I think there’s a real misconception over whether he’ll continue to leak,” Greenwald said. “He turned over to us many thousands of documents weeks and weeks ago back in Hong Kong and we’ve been the ones deciding which stories get published and in which order. As far as I know he doesn’t have any intention of disclosing any more documents to us.”

Greenwald, who lives in Brazil and has thousands of documents in his possession, confirmed that he had not received any pressure from the government to turn them over.

“I don’t think that the U.S. government thinks trying to pressure us or me out of continuing to publish these stories will do them any good, and so as far as I know, there hasn’t been any kind of pressure like that.”

As for the “Snowden Effect”–a term coined by NYU media professor Jay Rosen to describe the subsequent revelations caused by Snowden’s leaks–Greenwald said he was pleased with both the recent movement in the United States Senate and a string of recent lawsuits that have sprung up in federal court challenging the constitutionality of FISA programs.

“There a lot of encouraging and gratifying trends,” Greenwald said.

Video: Greenwald: ‘We haven’t harmed national security, we’ve informed the debate’

  1. Closed captioning of: Greenwald: ‘We haven’t harmed national security, we’ve informed the debate’

    >>> from the beginning edward snowden and his supporters, including the guardian's glenn greenwald , have insisted that the media and the public keep their focus on the massive surveillance state that snowden revealed rather than the maneuverings than the man himself. it has fallen on deaf ears. in large part, that's because snowden 's flight pattern has made him a pawn in a diplomatic chess match between the u.s. and russia .

    >> he is not a human rights activist . he is not a dissi denlt. he's accused of leaking classified information. the russian government has an opportunity here to work with us through the normal channels to expel mr. snowden . this should not be something that causes long-term problems for u.s./russian relations.

    >> doing his part to inflame international tensions, senator lindsey graham yesterday called for a boycott of next year's winter olympics in russia if president putin refuses to hand over snowden . today putin said snowden 's request for temporary asylum is working its way through proper channels but that any right to asylum will be revoked if snowden discloses further material. it's a position snowden appears to have agreed to. many are questioning his motivations. buzz feed says snowden 's flight and its surrounding geo poly iks is a good story. 15 senators are now pushing for greater transparency from the fiza court and at least five federal lawsuits challenging the nsa's data mining programs are currently working their way through the courts. as for public opinion , a majority of the public sees snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor and some are questioning whether a u.s. jury would convict snowden . david pozen writes that one source of concern is the jury. jurors might be tempted to acquit snowden not because they believe he is factually innocent but because they believe he was morally justified. still a majority of americans also believe that the nsa programs are necessary to keep americans safe and see a loss of privacy as the inevitable cost of living in the 21st century . as frank ridge argues in new york magazine, the overwhelming majority of the public is, quote, begging for its privacy to be invaded and god willing to be exposed in every gory detail before the largest audience possible. joining me now from rio de janeiro is columnist for the guardian, glenn greenwald . glen, thanks so much for joining us. i want to get right to the news of today, which is snowden has told the russian lawyer who's advising him, i will fulfill president putin 's condition. as someone who has been in touch with snowden , is it your understanding that snowden is agreeing to no further leaks or is he simply maintaining his belief that the leaks are not harming national security ?

    >> i think it's both. he said from the beginning that the condition that he not harm the united states was a very easy one for him to fulfill because nothing he's done has harmed the united states . quite the contrary, it's strengthened the united states by exposing what its political leaders are doing in the dark which strengthens democracy and brings about transparency but i think there's a misconception on the question of will he continue to do the leaks which is how these stories have been reported. he hassen been leaking document by document. he turned over to us many thousands of documents weeks and weeks ago back in hong kong when he was in hong kong and when i was as well and we have been the ones deciding which stories get published and in which order. as far as i know, he doesn't have any intention of disclosing anymore documents to us. he gave us all the documents that he thinks we ought to have and that the public ought to know many, many weeks ago.

    >> well, glen, given the fact that you have said you have -- still have thousands of pages of documents and the u.s. government 's sort of concerned about the release of those documents, i know you said yesterday on fox that you haven't received any pressure from the u.s. government , but have you had any further communication with them on this given the trove of material that you have on hand and the fact that you are effectively the significant got that controls its release?

    >> we go to the u.s. government before we publish every story like we would do with anyone on whom we're reporting and ask them to comment and we public the comments of the u.s. government and ask them to make arguments to the guardian editors about whether this material should be suppressed in the name of the national security . i do know that not a single document has been suppressed because none of their claims are at all persuasive. they never offer anything specific. they say don't publish this because it will harm national security . we have rejected those. i don't think there's a credible argument to make that we've harmed national security . what we've done is informed the debate. i don't think that the u.s. government thinks trying to pressure us or mow will do them any good. so as far as i know there hasn't been any kind of pressure like that.

    >> you know, glenn, while there has been extraordinary focus on snowden , where he is in russia , where he is seeking asylum, there is actually movement afoot in the united states to act on some of the secrets or the nsa programs that edward snowden made clear and revealed to the american public and i wonder what you think of the action in the senate and the action in the courts, the fact that the state secrets privilege may not be invoked to the degree that it has been thus far, that it may not be the prop that the government stands on from come to go light. are you satisfied with what's going on and where are you most optimistic in terms of change happening? is it the courts that we can look to for the biggest amount of progress?

    >> i agree with you, alex. i think there has been an awful lot of media focus on trivialitiys but i think the political system and culture both in the united states and internationally, this is a big international story, have taken these disclosures seriously and there are encouraging and gratifying trends that you suggested. there's all sorts of movement in the united states senate and congress to mandate much greater disclosure when it comes to the decisions of the fiza court. this idea that we should have a secret court enacting secret law that determines the contours of the constitutional lib brert at this that is striking all kinds of people as tyrannical. the idea that james clapper went before congress and lied to their faces, which is a felony, when asked whether or not the nsa is collecting millions of records indiscriminately against americans . i think even in the courts there's movement in the fiza court to say that there was a decision in 2011 that found that the united states government , the obama administration said there's spying on american citizens. the fiza court said we have no objection to know about our 80 page ruling. it's radically changed how people understand what the nsa is doing, the proper limits of secrecy and the kinds of powers that our political leaders should be able to exercise in the dark.

    >> i've got to ask you, glen, because edward snowden when all of these leaks came out and said just because effectively we're spying on folks who are not american doesn't make it right and at the same time he's seeking refuge in countries with abysmal human rights records. he even went as far as to say the other day that he wanted to congratulate the leaders of venezuela, ecuador and russia for standing up. given their records domestically, is that not hip critical?

    >> no. i'll tell you why. people seek asylum from the united states all the time. the united states government continuously grants them asylum. i never hear people say isn't it odd that they rendered people, kid namd them and put them in changes in guantanamo or that invaded and destroyed a country of 26 million people in iraq and have all sorts of human rights abuses because the idea of asylum is that countries under international law are supposed to protect you from persecution that you're enduring at home, that you're fleeing. he isn't going to venezuela, or ecuador, bolivia, wherever he ends up. he's going there because as daniel elseburg said, this country is no longer safe for whistle blowers . they have an unprecedented war on people who blow the whistle on government misconduct. he has to go somewhere. there are very few places in the world willing to stand up to the united states and demand that his rights under the law be protected. his choices are very limited and he's trying to make sure that he doesn't end up like bradley manning, put in a cage, rendered incommunicado. he wants to participate in the ongoing debate that he provoked and that's what's guiding his choices.

    >> the guardian's glenn greenwald , a developing story if ever there was one. thanks for your


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