Concerned about the spying on her country revealed by Edward Snowden, Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner met with the whistleblower in “secret talks” in 2013.

Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union and one of Snowden’s lawyers, told The Buenos Aires Herald that the meeting took place during Fernández de Kirchner’s visit to Moscow and that it made her “the first chief of state to meet with Snowden.”

The Herald reports:

According to Romero, the president visited Snowden — who has been granted a three-year residency permit by the Kremlim (sic) after revealing US surveillance in 2013 — when she travelled to Russia during the last days of April.

“President Fernández de Kirchner was the first head of state to meet with Snowden. They talked for about an hour,” he added. Romero did not specify the exact date of the encounter and did not make reference to the topics the two discussed. However, he made it clear that Snowden was delighted with her visit. “She made a good impression on him,” he said. “I don’t know why she has not spoken about the meeting.”

The ACLU is providing legal representation to Snowden, who faces charges of espionage in the US for his disclosure of top secret archives.

“It is true that he faces those accusations but days ago a US court declared unlawful the surveillance programme, thus he is accused of leaking information about an unlawful practice,” he stressed. “Americans knew that we were under surveillance but we did not know its real extent,” the expert — who has been leading since 2001 the NGO that has as its mission to protect civil liberties — told the Herald.

The ACLU has been in contact with Snowden since July 2013, shortly after his name and face were plastered on newspapers across the world.

Fernández de Kirchner travelled to Russia on April 18, two weeks after it was revealed — thanks to the information provided by Snowden — that Great Britain had been spying on Argentina.

On the 33rd anniversary of the Malvinas War, intelligence documents were published by the online US news outlet The Intercept and Clarín Group’s cable news channel Todo Noticias (TN) on April 2, revealing the British government was engaged in surveillance and cyber operations against the Argentine government in an attempt to shape public opinion against the country’s sovereignty claims over the islands.

Though the national government avoided making a direct reference to the revelation, a week later tension escalated with the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) summoning Argentine Ambassador to London Alicia Castro and the Argentine Foreign Ministry — headed by Héctor Timerman, summoning UK Ambassador to Argentina John Freeman afterward.

Fernández de Kirchner stayed in Moscow until April 23, when she had a sit-down with her Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. If the encounter with Snowden took place as Romero said, the Malvinas might have been one of the topics of concern for the president.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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