Astoundingly Bad Reporting On Ed Snowden: Claims He Said The Exact Opposite Of What He Said
from the now-that's-impressive-journalism dept
Update: The original article I had seen, on the ABC Australia site has now been “updated” with a correction. It turns out that it was actually just carelessly running a piece from the AFP wire. The AFP piece (sometimes edited, sometimes not) can be seen on MSN.com, Yahoo and the AFP directly. However, I think that first sentence below was a bad summary by the ABC site of the bad reporting by AFP, since none of the others include that initial, totally incorrect, sentence.
A few days ago, someone pointed me to this article from the Australian ABC news, which presumes to make statements concerning an interview that Ed Snowden gave to the Brazilian Globo TV:
Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, wanted by US authorities and currently living in Russia, has told a Brazilian TV network he has applied for asylum in Brazil and is in possession of more sensitive documents.
“I would love to live in Brazil,” Snowden told Globo TV on Sunday (local time).
[….] He said he had more documents to release, relating to US spying on countries that include Britain and Brazil.
That struck me as strange, given earlier statements, including from Snowden himself, that he no longer has any access to any of the documents. As for the application for asylum, last year, Snowden had sent an open letter to Brazil, in which he doesn’t actually ask for asylum, but hints that he’d be interested if there were a way to work out the details.
Thankfully, the full Globo TV episode is available online and was conducted in English. And what you quickly discover is whoever wrote that ABC story, is plainly misrepresenting what was said (thanks to Blair Chintella for pointing out exactly where). Early in the interview, Snowden clearly says that he destroyed all the documents. Later in the interview (around minute 40) he’s even more direct in contradicting the ABC report:
Sonia Bridi (Globo TV): Every now and then, the American press says that you would offer Brazil documents in exchange for asylum. Is that an offer that’s on the table?
Snowden: Absolutely not! I could not be more clear. First off, I don’t have any documents to offer. Secondly, even if I did, I would never trade secret information or cooperate with some government in exchange for asylum. Asylum has to be granted on humanitarian grounds. It has to be granted to protect political rights or the right to safety. This whole topic about negotiating for asylum, I think, is improper. If Brazil wants to offer asylum, if they want to stand for human rights, if they want to protect the rights of whistleblowers, I think that’s a good thing, and I would certainly encourage and support it — whether it’s in my case, or the case of anyone. But I would never engage in any sort of “deal” or quid pro quo exchange.
And somehow, that gets turned into: “Snowden… has told a Brazilian TV network he has applied for asylum in Brazil and is in possession of more sensitive documents.” Incredible. As the reporter from the TV interview herself tweeted later, the report is simply factually incorrect. It was Greenwald who still said he had more documents. While the difference may seem minor, it’s very, very big, since Snowden is the one who could use asylum, and his critics would jump on either bogus claim: that he had lied about earlier destruction of documents or that he’d “trade” documents for asylum, as suggested in the report. But neither of those things are true.
And you wonder why people don’t trust the press so much these days.