Snowden, Trapped in Moscow Airport by US, Makes Formal Bid for Russia Asylum
The Snowden saga continues to get weirder.
Let's just pretend for a moment that the US government has it right, and that Edward Snowden, the renegade CIA and NSA employee who signed up with a government intelligence contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, so as to steal a huge swath of National Security Agency data that has the potential to destroy US intelligence operations around the globe, lay bare the NSA's secret architecture and alert the world's terrorists to how they are being monitored, is as vile traitor out to destroy America.
Where is the last place under such circumstances that the US would want him to wind up? For me, I'd say there'd be three of them: Iran, China and Russia.
So here's Snowden, who for weeks has been trying to get to a safe haven in Latin America, stuck the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. It's not that he wants to be there god knows! (This is, after all, a guy who called Hawaii a "heaven" on earth. He's hardly the kind of person who's hankering to spend his life shivering through Moscow winters.) After packing up his hard drives and computers loaded with NSA data, he went first from his home in Hawaii to Hong Kong, because he knew that Chinese city was a free-speech, free-communications world media capital. Once there, he granted interviews and had the Washington Post and the British Guardian newspaper, as well as the South China Morning Post, publish explosive reports about the NSA's vast domestic spying operation. He probably figured he could fly from there across the Pacific to safety in Ecuador or Bolivia or Venezuela, or perhaps some other congenial South American democracy. After all, Brazil and Uruguay are both led at present by former leftist guerrillas and even Argentina has been pretty independent of the US of late. But the US responded to his whistleblowing by declaring him guilty of "espionage," making him a spy and a traitor. It cancelled his US passport, effectively making him stateless, and demanded the China send him home to be prosecuted.
China didn't want the diplomatic problems of accepting Snowden, and also didn't want to hand him back, so it allowed him to fly out of Hong Kong to Russia, which these days an ally of China. Russia's Putin had already stated that Snowden would be welcome there, but once Snowden was at the Moscow airport, Putin begin feeling the heat from the US, and Putin's invitation was amended to say he could have asylum but only if he stopped leaking things that harmed "Russia's partner" the US.