FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

RT-TV Reports that Snowden has Accepted Russian Asylum Offer

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

Russian TV is reporting that Edward Snowden, the bete noir of the US national security state, who has leaked information that the National Security Agency is spying on all electronic communications of Americans, and on hundreds of millions of others around the globe, as well as on the leaders and the embassies of even many US allies, is accepting an offer of political asylum that has been extended by Russia, where he has been spending weeks in limbo in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, unable to fly to asylum elsewhere.

 

According to the RT-TV report, Snowden, in accepting the Russian offer, will have to abide by a condition set by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he not continue releasing documents harmful to the US.

This deal leaves a lot of questions unanswered:

First of all, Snowden has already turned over a huge amount of information to reporters at the Washington Postand the Guardian newspaper in the UK, as well as lesser amounts of documents to Der Spiegel magazine in Germany and to other publications in other countries. It is not clear whether he can control, at this point, whether or not those news organizations continue to publish articles based on the documents in their possession, It is also unclear what the Russian government response would be concerning Snowden’s protected status should any of those organizations continue to publish embarrassing or damaging disclosures about the NSA. Asked by reporters at an airport press conference whether he would continue to release details about the NSA himself while in Russia, Snowden’s answer was an ambiguous, “My job is done.” That job, though, was providing the leaked information to reporters. Snowden himself has not publicly disclosed the information.

Snowden also correctly pointed out the distinction between “damaging America,” and exposing the NSA. “No actions I take or plan are meant to harm the US… I want the US to succeed,” he said in answer to a question. Would Putin consider further leaks about the US government’s spying on its own citizens “damaging” to America? Open question.

In any event, Putin has made clear that Russia would never extradite Snowden. As he put it, “Russia has never extradited anyone and is not going to do so. Same as no one has ever been extradited to Russia.” Besides, the cat’s already out of the bag, in terms of the big revelations Snowden made public.

The RT-TV report also suggests that Snowden and Russia may be looking at the asylum grant as less than a lifetime arrangement. It appears to be a way for Russia to get him out of the airport, into Russia, to further tweak the US, and to put Snowden in an official status where he could be provided with travel documents as a matter of course, as would an asylum grantee in the US

This could enable him to quietly leave Russia later for another location after some time has passed. The RT story significantly quotes Tatyana Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, as saying Snowden is seeking to stay in Russia because he “can’t fly to Latin America yet.”

Three Latin American countries so far–Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua– have offered Snowden asylum without conditions, but he has been unable to safely travel to any of them, given the already demonstrated US threat to force his plane to land. (American authorities exerted pressure on French, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish governments to refuse their airspace, in violation of international law, to a presidential plane carrying Bolivia’s leader, Evo Morales, to fly home from a state visit to Russia, forcing it to land in Austria, where the government was pressed to illegally inspect the plane, which the US incorrectly suspected was transporting Snowden to asylum in Bolivia.) At the airport conference, Snowden said he had accepted all three offers of asylum, as well as Russia’s. “I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future,” Snowden said after meeting with human rights lawyers earlier.

The likelihood that Russia’s offer of asylum with conditions limiting his further leaking of documents is part of some behind-the-scenes maneuver by the US with Russian support seems mighty slim to me. It already hands Russia a huge propaganda coup as it preemptively blocks further US criticism of Russia’s human rights shortcomings and violations.

If anything, the Obama administration and the commissars of the US security establishment surely have to view the prospect of Snowden’s staying in Russia with his stack of laptops loaded with NSA secrets — which he claims he has never opened up or provided to Russian or Chinese intelligence experts — as deeply worrying. More likely, the initial offer from Putin was a way to end the awkward circus at the airport, while on Snowden’s part, it was a way to end his surely frustrating weeks-long airport purgatory.

It is hard to imagine that Snowden would be accepting becoming trapped inside Russia for life, so I expect he will end up being provided with full rights of travel (Russia is, after all, a free-travel country now, not the old Soviet Union with its closed borders), so I assume he will be issued a travel document as a matter of course as part of the asylum process. That would simply push back the time that he might decide to move on to get out from under any onerous conditions on his stay in Russia. (Once he’s had time to put on weight, grow his hair long and maybe change the color, get fitted for a pair of contacts, maybe of a different eye color, grow a good Russian physicist’s beard, and once he has a Russian travel document, which the US would not have the ID number for, it would be fairly easy for him to hop a Russian commercial flight with official Russian permission and assistance, and to fly via Cuba to Venezuela, Bolivia or Nicaragua. The US ability to constantly monitor all flights visually and to spot a disguised Snowden are actually quite limited.)

As Snowden said at a meeting with 13 representatives of human rights organizations from Russia and around the world who assembled at the airport, as reported in RT’s article, “I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted.”

The Snowden story, and the ongoing exposure of the NSA’s spying outrage, is clearly not over. Stay tuned.

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 01, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Hillary: Ordinarily Awful or Uncommonly Awful?
Rob Urie
Liberal Pragmatism and the End of Political Possibility
Pam Martens
Clinton Says Wall Street Banks Aren’t the Threat, But Her Platform Writers Think They are
Jason Hirthler
Washington’s Not-So-Invisible Hand: It’s Not Economics, It’s Empire
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Marx on Financial Bubbles: Much Keener Insights Than Contemporary Economists
Pete Dolack
Brexit Will Only Count if Everybody Leaves the EU
Evan Jones
Ancillary Lessons from Brexit
Aidan O'Brien
Brexit: the English and Welsh Enlightenment
Jeremy R. Hammond
How Turkey’s Reconciliation Deal with Israel Harms the Palestinians
Margaret Kimberley
Beneficial Chaos: the Good News About Brexit
Phyllis Bennis
From Paris to Istanbul, More ‘War on Terror’ Means More Terrorist Attacks
Ishmael Reed
OJ and Jeffrey Toobin: Black Bogeyman Auctioneer
Ron Jacobs
Let There Be Rock
Ajamu Baraka
Paris, Orlando and Turkey: Displacing the Narrative of Western Innocence
Robert Fantina
The First Amendment, BDS and Third-Party Candidates
David Rosen
Whatever Happened to Utopia?
Andre Vltchek
Brexit – Let the UK Screw Itself!
Jonathan Latham
107 Nobel Laureate Attack on Greenpeace Traced Back to Biotech PR Operators
Steve Horn
Fracked Gas LNG Exports Were Centerpiece In Promotion of Panama Canal Expansion, Documents Reveal
Robert Koehler
The Right to Bear Courage
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Spin Masquerading as Science Courtesy of “Shameful White Men of Privilege”
Binoy Kampmark
Who is Special Now? The Mythology Behind the US-British Relationship
Mark B. Baldwin
Russia to the Grexit?
Andrew Wimmer
Killer Grief
Manuel E. Yepe
Sanders, Socialism and the New Times
Franklin Lamb
ISIS is Gone, But Its Barbarity Still Haunts Palmyra
Mark Weisbrot
A Policy of Non-Intervention in Venezuela Would be a Welcome Change
Matthew Stevenson
Larry Cameron Explains Brexit
Cesar Chelala
How Tobacco Became the Opium War of the 21st Century
Joseph Natoli
How We Reached the Point Where We Can’t Hear Each Other
Andrew Stewart
Skip “Hamilton” and Read Gore Vidal’s “Burr”
Christopher Brauchli
Educating Kansas
George Wuerthner
Ranching and the Future of the Sage Grouse
Thomas Knapp
Yes, a GOP Delegate Revolt is Possible
Gilbert Mercier
Democracy Is Dead
Andy Piascik
The Hills of Connecticut: Where Theatre and Life Became One
Charles R. Larson
Mychal Denzel Smith’s “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: a Young Black Man’s Education”
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Four Morning Ducks
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail