Argentina's president reportedly met with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden during a recent visit to Moscow. The meeting took place after evidence provided by Snowden detailed British spying in Argentina.
Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner met with American whistleblower Edward Snowden in Moscow while making a visit to Russia in April, Snowden lawyer Anthony Romero said Thursday.
Romero, who is director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the meeting lasted two hours and took place after Argentinian media, citing evidence provided by Snowden, reported that Britain had spied on Argentine leaders from 2006 to 2011. The goal of the British spying allegedly was to protect the security of the disputed Falkland Islands.
"She met with him toward the end of April," Romero told reporters in Buenos Aires. Fernandez was in Russia at the time to strengthen bilateral ties and enhance energy cooperation with Moscow. Amid increasing international isolation, Russia is seeking to strengthen its ties with South America.
Snowden told Romero that his meeting with Fernandez constituted his first face-to-face talk with a head of state since fleeing the United States for Russia in 2013 after revealing the US National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance programs.
"They spoke about the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance, its ramifications for world leaders and impact on the citizens of foreign countries," Romero said.
Argentine government officials have not yet commented on the reported meeting with Snowden.
The US wants to bring Snowden back to America to stand trial for charges of espionage and theft of government property, and the meeting with Snowden will likely damage Washington's already strained relations with Buenos Aires. US officials have not commented on the meet either.
But Romero, a US citizen, believes it is important that world leaders support Snowden.
"My government considers him a criminal, which he isn't," Romero said, adding that the meeting "demonstrates the bravery, courage and independence of President Fernandez."
Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013 on a three-year residency permit provided by the Kremlin after he leaked the details of the NSA spying programs.
bw/bk (Reuters, dpa)