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The letter, published in the daily Folha de S.Paulo, reveals that Snowden had been approached by Brazilian officials seeking his help to reveal the extent of NSA spying on the country and its citizens.
In September, the Foreign Relations Committee of Brazil’s House of Representatives unanimously adopted a measure that would allow it to send its members to Russia to meet Snowden.
The Brazilian Senate is probing claims the NSA monitored emails and intercepted phone calls of President Dilma Rousseff and several of her top aides.
Snowden’s letter, however, indicated that fear of pursuit by US authorities, which consider him a felon and wanted fugitive, impeded his willingness to work with Brazilian investigators.
“A lot of Brazilian senators have asked me to collaborate with their investigations into suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens. The American government will continue to limit my ability to speak out until a country grants me permanent political asylum,” the letter said.
Russia granted Snowden temporary asylum in late July.
There has been no official Brazilian government response to the letter.
Rousseff has previously called the NSA surveillance program “economic espionage”, saying reports of intercepted communication of state-oil giant Petrobras have belied US claims of the PRISM programme being directed to thwart terrorism.
In November, Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel successfully drafted a “right to privacy” resolution, which was passed by the UN Rights Committee.
The publication of Snowden’s letter in Portuguese (no English version has been yet made available) comes a day after US District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that legal challenges against the NSA’s domestic surveillance programme – which he said was likely unconstitutional – would likely succeed.