Edward Snowden Finds Trouble in Asylum Search

Man, the life of the modern leaker is hard. After escaping the US for Hong Kong, and then Hong Kong for Russia in hopes of political asylum, Edward Snowden has hit more snags. Currently living out a weirdly political version of The Terminal in a Moscow airport, Snowden has officially withdrawn his request for asylum in Russia, with reports indicating he was not happy with the terms of that asylum. President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia would be glad to grant Snowden some shelter so long as he stops leaking US information—which, apparently, he is not willing to do.

Similar asylum requests to countries like Germany, Norway, Poland, Finland, Switzerland, and Austria have been denied on the grounds that Snowden must make his application for asylum from within the borders of those countries. WikiLeaks officials aiding Snowden said that requests have also been filed in Venezuela, Spain, Nicaragua, Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, India, Iceland, France, Ecuador, Cuba, China, Brazil, and Bolivia, so his options remain open.

Since Snowden fled for Russia on June 23, the US has annulled his passport, essentially denouncing him as a citizen and making seeking asylum that much more difficult. Snowden, however, remained steadfast, addressing the issue in a statement on the Wikileaks site:

“Although I am convicted of nothing, (the United States) has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.”

A tough situation to be sure. But with news of US spying on European Union officials having leaked, European allies are none too happy, which may make Snowden’s quest for asylum that much easier. [NPR]