by Steven G. Traylor, journalist July 13, 2013
Renegade American whistle blower Edward Snowed, currently trapped in transit at Moscow’s Sheremetro airport, may have complicated his problem by asking for ”temporary political asylum” during a meeting on Friday attended by a hord of press and others with an interest in his fate.
Snowded has now directly involved the Russian government into his political problem – and the way President Putin of Russia will ultimately handle this, is still to be determined.
The President of the United States and the President of Russia have spoken on the phone about Edward Snowden. Says White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, the US warned Russia against allowing Mr. Snowden a ”propaganda platform” by leting him remain in Russia. No details of the conversation between the two leaders were disclosed.
In the highly publicized gathering with Moscow representatives of various human rights groups, some Russian political leaders, and liked minded special interest groups; Snowden read a prepared statement for the assembled press. Snowden did state, ”No action I take or plan, are meant to harm the US…………I want the US to Succeed”. However, he has already go public with information that has resulted in his current problems with the US government.
Vladimir Putin has said publicly earlier in the week, if Snowden wants to stay in Russia, he ”must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners”, as a condition to remain in Russia (temporarily).
But, re-framing for ”work harming our American partners” does not preclude others who are aware of what secrets he may have – from going public as well. Putin could change his political position, and make Snowden’s life more difficult than it is now, in the foreseeable future.
Snowden stated he was officially seeking asylum from Russia on Friday.
“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,” Snowden wrote in a statement released early Friday by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. “I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.”
Edward Snowded had his US passport canceled, his only legal travel document by the US government when it became public knowledge that is was the source of various leaks of highly sensitive intelligence information regarding spying activities on US citizens and European allies.
During the Moscow Airport meeting, Edward Snowden thank the various countries that have offered him political asylum, however his ability to leave Russia is still not assured, based on the fact that he cannot travel on an international flight as he would be required to fly over European and US air space. Snowden seeks guarantees before his travel, and is unlikely to get them, in the forseable future.
Thus Putin becomes his ‘proxy-official’ that can determine his fate, based on applying for political asylum in Russia (if only temporary).
Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia have all stated there willingness to accept Mr. Snowden.
Temporary political asylum does not get him out of Russia. Possibly only Sheremetro Airport Transit Zone, where he has been since June 23 following a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow, as a legal passport holder.
His problem, and he knows it
Edward Snowded has been placed on a US ”no-fly status” that preclude him from flying commercially with any airline that travels to the United States.
Although he has no intention of flying to the United States, commercial airlines that would receive him as a passenger face the prospects of a similar action that forced the landing of the president of Bolivia’s plane last week in Vienna, Austria. That primary passenger was the president of a sovereign nation, President Evo Morales simply returning for meetings in Moscow, Russia with President Putin. He was traveling in his own countries presidential aircraft.
Commercial airline carriers do not what to face the prospect of transporting eventual asylum seeker Snowen, on regularly schedule flights through Europe and eventually on to some Latin American destination. The actions that United States government might take if such a case, is unknown to them, and highly risky on their part.
The only ‘safe way’ for Snowden to get out of Russia is for Iceland to grant him Citizenship as it did with American fugitive chess player Bobby Fisher. With Citizenship, Snowden would be free to travel – out of Russia as a legal citizen. But that in itself does not guarantee safe passage – citizenship.
His mode of travel too would have to be a private jet.
A predetermined flight plan could take Snowden from Russia, up over the North Pole and out into the Atlantic destined for Iceland, once citizenship is guaranteed by the Icelandic parliament called the Albingi.
Icelandic business man Olafur Vignir Sigurvinsson, founder of payment provider DataCell, has pubically offered private transportation in the past. DataCell and Olafur are most famous for their recent lawsuit to force credit card provider’s to allow Wikileaks to again process and receive donation.
A lawmaker in Iceland, Birgitta Jonsdottir, which has campaigned for internet freedom, said the only way for Snowden to travel to Iceland is for him to have Citizenship.
Russian President Valdim Putin is on the record for saying’ ”Russian will not extradite him to any country that has the death penalty”, as the Russian constitution precludes usage of the death penalty.
In the mean time, Snowden will continue to linger in Moscow’s Airport Transit Zone, regards to his request of asylum in Russia.
In Iceland, the parliament has decided – for now, not to ack on the issue of citizenship.
Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia are potential safe havens for Mr. Snowder, however they are simply possible refuge for this indited American, in a far off land.
The US government has filed their law suite again Snowden, and charged him with ”esponage” a law in effect since 1917, with a maximum penalty of death possible.
The future still remains unclear for him, a self admitted speaker of truth regarding his governments actions on US citizens and Europeans as well.