After almost 40 days of being stranded at Sheremetyevo International Airport, NSA leaker Edward Snowden managed to get asylum from Russia. WikiLeaks, which assisted Snowden in the duration of his adventure in evading extradition on espionage charges, said that Russia had “done the right thing”. The country granted Snowden one year of asylum—more than enough time to get his things in order when it’s time for him to move on.
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Of his finally receiving asylum Edward Snowden said, “Over the past eight weeks we have seen the Obama administration show no respect for international or domestic law, but in the end the law is winning. I thank the Russian Federation for granting me asylum in accordance with its laws and international obligations.”
During a Rossiya-24 broadcasted interview, Lon Snowden thanked President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government for granting his son asylum—despite what it could mean for the country’s relationship with the United States. Earlier Lon Snowden was scheduled to visit Edward in Moscow.
An unsigned statement on WikiLeaks stated, “Despite the ongoing pressure from the United States, which has been trying to interfere with this sovereign [asylum] process in violation of the U.N. Protocol on the Rights of Refugees, Russia has done the right thing and granted Mr. Snowden temporary asylum.”
Of course WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange weighed in on the development from his hideout in Ecuador Embassy in London. “This is another victory in the fight against Obama’s war on whistle-blowers. This battle has been won, but the war continues. The United States can no longer continue the surveillance of world citizens and its digital colonization of sovereign nations.”
Despite Snowden getting freedom through Russian asylum, some human rights advocates and agencies in the country pointed out the irony of the whole thing as Russia isn’t exactly a country known for freedom of speech. Lyudmila Alexeyeva, leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group stated that while he is happy that Snowden had been granted asylum somewhere, the leaker is now wandering about “a country that cracks down on them (freedom and rights).”
In an email to the Associated Press, Rachel Denber, the Human Rights Watch group’s Russia and Soviet states expert chimed in, “He cannot but be aware of the unprecedented crackdown on human rights that the government has unleashed in the past 15 months.”
Snowden’s asylum comes a few weeks after President Putin said that his bid for asylum would be considered if he didn’t leak anything else that could harm the U.S and their operations. With that, Snowden withdrew his bid and applied to several other countries with Venezuela offering asylum. It seems as though that view changed from Russia’s end as Snowden recently dropped another revelation earlier this week.
According to Snowden, through XKeyscore, the National Security Agency can pretty much see everything users do online: browsing history, emails, chats, metadata, and search history. News of XKeyscore hit via The Guardian Wednesday and all that is required according to Snowden is a personal email. It is more focused than PRISM which casts a wider net and gathers metadata whereas XKeyscore can target a specific person and wiretap specific bits of that person’s digital activity.
Snowden getting a year in Russia opens up many questions and builds onto existing questions such as “How deep does the NSA’s power really go?”, “What will Putin get from giving Snowden asylum?”, “How long before Snowden’s ideals of freedom clash with what Russia will allow?”, and “What will the U.S do now about Russia giving Snowden asylum?”