The former Cuban President Fidel Castro has blasted a Russian newspaper report that claimed on Monday that Cuba buckled under American pressure and refused to receive Mr. Snowden, who wanted to fly to Havana from Moscow on his way to a South American country.

Mr. Castro, who is rarely seen or heard in public now-a-days, made stinging comments against the Russian report in an article published in Cuban state media. In the article, which addresses a wide range of issues — from the crisis in Syria and Egypt to the use of robots in police activities, through the case of Edward Snowden, the Cuban leader said the report published by the newspaper Kommersant is a “lie” and “slander”.

He made clear that Havana would never give in to pressure from Washington. “It is absolutely obvious that the United States will always try to put pressure on Cuba, as they do on the UN or any other public or private institution of the world. That is one of the features that characterises the governments of that country; it would be impossible to expect otherwise from them. No wonder we have resisted for 54 years — and we’ll continue to resist for any additional amount of time, if need be — relentlessly defending our country and confronting the criminal economic blockade imposed by the powerful empire,” said Mr. Castro , 83, who led the 1959 revolution in Cuba.

Calling the newspaper “counterrevolutionary” and “mercenary”, Mr. Castro wrote in favour of the American whistleblower. “I admire the fair and courageous statements by Snowden. In my opinion, he has done a service to the world by revealing the disgustingly dishonest powerful empire, which is lying and deceiving the world.”

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