HAVANA — Fidel Castro said in remarks published Wednesday that no Cuban official probably denied U.S. 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 U.S. 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 asylum.
Castro, in the same article, praised Snowden, who disclosed the existence of secret U.S. 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 U.N. 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.