Ivan Samolovov's Blog

Is Snowden worth it?

June 11, 2013

Russia is willing to consider giving political asylum to the American intelligence agencies whistleblower Edward Snowden. But why do we do that?


So, Edward Snowden, former CIA and NSA contractor, is a man who has made public highly classified NSA surveillance data and currently in search of political asylum. First of all, the leak has become a sensation in the internet community. For instance, twitter entries coming along with the hashtag #Snowden are increasing in number every ten seconds.

In may, Snowden arrived to Hong Kong in the hope of avoiding prosecution in the U.S. He claimed he would be happy to live wherever the freedom of speech was real. In his own words, he is seeking "asylum from any countries that believe in free speech and oppose the victimization of global privacy".
U.S. telecom data collection is part of the national counterterrorism strategy by virtue of which there has been just a few acts of terrorism on the U.S. soil. Far more planned attacks were revealed. The Snowden leak exposed that nine Internet companies (namely Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple) shared information with the NSA. This is a virtual invitation to terrorists to use other Internet outlets for searches, email, apps and all the rest.
To be sure, Russia has the right to consider giving political asylum to Snowden, for it doesn't mean that he is going to receive one. However, giving sanctuary to a criminal - who have committed high treason and confessed that and who would face a supreme measure of punishment in each country - raises a question of the role Russia is going to play in the modern world. Whether it is going to be the role of a spoiler whose actions are premised on his wish "to make Americans angry" rather than on his convictions depends on the eventual decision of giving or rejecting asylum. In my opinion, Snowden is not worth equaling ourselves to the nations like Ecuador whose embassy is hosting Julian Assange. This is not the way a world power - which Russia wants to be or wishes to appear - acts. Given that the United States are very sensitive to the issues of terrorism and security it is very likely that the US-Russia relations would be damaged to a far greater degree than in case of Magnitski-Yakovlev acts.
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