08/28/13 - AFP (Paris) - Fidel Castro rejects alleged Cuban refusal to host Snowden
HAVANA - Fidel Castro said in remarks published Wednesday that no Cuban
official should have denied US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden entry to
the communist-run island, as alleged by a Russian newspaper.
The former longtime leader said he didn't know whether anyone linked to
Havana had actually spoken to the fugitive former US National Security
Agency contractor "because that is not my job."
"What what (I) would not agree with is someone, regardless of their
standing, speaking on behalf of Cuba," he said in a column published in the
Communist Party newspaper Granma.
Snowden flew to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23 but did not board a flight
to Cuba the next day -- despite having a reservation.
On Monday, Russia's Kommersant newspaper, citing several informed sources,
said Snowden did not do so because Havana, under pressure from Washington,
said it would not allow the plane to land.
Snowden ended up spending more than a month in the transit zone of the
Russian capital's Sheremetyevo airport until Moscow gave him temporary
Castro, in the same article, praised Snowden, who disclosed the existence
of secret US government surveillance programs used to scoop phone and
Internet data on a vast scale.
"I admire how brave and just Snowden's declarations were, which in my
opinion provided a service to the world by revealing the disgustingly
dishonest politics of the powerful empire that lies and deceives the
world," Castro wrote.
"It is absolutely clear that the United States will always try to put
pressure on Cuba as it does with the UN or any public or private
institution in the world, that is one of the characteristics of that
country's government and it would not be possible to expect anything else."
Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia offered asylum to Snowden in July. In the
end, Moscow granted him temporary, one-year asylum on August 1.
Castro, 87, stepped down as Cuba's president in 2006, handing over the
reins to his younger brother Raul after becoming ill.
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