Now Where to Run, Mr. Snowden?

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Now Where to Run, Mr. Snowden?
Published 25-06-2013, 05:51

Dmitry Babich

Dmitry Babich is a political analyst with the Voice of Russia radio station

The sensational news about the arrival to Moscow of the embattled American whistleblower Edward Snowden, obviously, did not come as a surprise to the Russian authorities. Snowden flew to Moscow from Hong Kong by flight SU213 of Russia's most respected air company Aeroflot, and the presence on board of a passenger named Edward Snowden was known to Russian authorities when the plane was still in the air.

"Of course we know about Mr. Snowden's flight, but since the Russian law-enforcement bodies have no problems with him, there were no orders on his apprehension or anything in that sense," a source of the RIA Novosti news agency in the Russian security services was quoted as saying.

Mr. Snowden is expected to spend a day in Moscow. On Monday, he is expected to leave Moscow on board of the flight SU150 for La Havana, the Cuban capital. Different reports say he will go to Caracas (Venezuela) or to Quito (Ecuador) from there.

By leaving Hong Kong, Mr. Snowden is widely believed to have followed the advice of a fellow-whistleblower, Australian citizen Julian Assange, who recently urged Snowden to seek political asylum in Russia or in a Latin American country.

But there were some reasons of American origin for Mr.Snowden's decision to leave "a safe location" in Hong Kong where he had been staying before his departure to Moscow after checking out on June 10 from the hotel in Hong Kong where he had made his famous revelations about the illegal activities of the American National Security Agency (NSA).

The US filed several criminal charges against Snowden, ranging from espionage to "theft of government property." US officials obviously pressured the authorities of Hong Kong, a special territory inside the People's Republic of China, a former British colony, forcing them to extradite Snowden on a provisional arrest warrant or at least to evict the controversial guest.

The Hong Kong authorities chose the latter variant, justifying their decision not to arrest Snowden by irregularities in the documents they received from the US.

"If Hong Kong does not act soon, it will complicate our bilateral relations," the Guardian daily quoted a US official as saying. "It will also raise questions about Hong Kong's commitment to the rule of law."

However, Mr. Snowden has sympathizers in many countries. A US advocacy group, Government Accountability Project, said in a statement that Mr. Snowden "disclosed information about a secret program he reasonably believed to be illegal."

Mr. Assange's Wikileaks did not make a seret out of its direct aid to Mr. Snowden, disclosing that the group helped him "to find political asylum in a democratic country."

Now Snowden is expected to fly to Cuba, from where he will go to Ecuador or Venezuela. This turn of events will only complicate the situation around Snowden, since the US considers both the Ecuadoran and Veezuelan regimes "undemocratic," although even the US has to concede they are more democratic than America's old cold war foe Cuba.

Ecuador has revealed itself to be very resilient in its defense of Assange, who took refuge in its London embassy. Recently Assange was visited in London by the Ecuadoran foreign minister, Ricardo Patino.

 

In a statement to the press, Assange said he would rather spend 5 more years in the ambassy than face a US court on charges similar to the ones brought against Mr. Snowden.

 

 

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