Brazil's Snowden petition hits 1 million signatures

Portrait of Edward Snowden declaring him a "hero" during a protest against government surveillance in Washington, DC, on Oct 26, 2013. An internet campaign calling for US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden to be granted asylum in Brazil has
Portrait of Edward Snowden declaring him a "hero" during a protest against government surveillance in Washington, DC, on Oct 26, 2013. An internet campaign calling for US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden to be granted asylum in Brazil has gathered more than one million signatures, online activist group Avaaz said on Monday. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

BRASiLIA (AFP) - An internet campaign calling for US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden to be granted asylum in Brazil has gathered more than one million signatures, online activist group Avaaz said on Monday.

Avaaz launched the campaign a month ago, hoping to gain more than one million signatories but now the group has revised its target to 1.25 million.

The organization believes the fugitive Snowden should "be recognized as a whistleblower acting in the public interest - not as a dangerous criminal" after the former National Security Agency contractor disclosed details of a vast intelligence operation monitoring millions of phone calls and emails worldwide.

The Avaaz petition calls on the Brazilian government to offer Snowden, who received temporary asylum in Russia in August, to take in the former contractor, who said last month he was willing to help Brasilia investigate US spying.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff slammed Washington after it emerged US surveillance had extended to calls from within her own office as well as major state firms such as oil giant Petrobras.

Rousseff cancelled an October visit to the United States in protest but has not commented on the possibility of offering Snowden asylum.

The Avaaz petition was started by Brazilian David Miranda, partner of Brazil-based US investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald, who published the Snowden leaks in Britain's Guardian newspaper.

Last month, in an open letter to Brazilian media, Snowden indicated that "until a country grants permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak."