Snowden seeks asylum

Admitted leaker took flight Sunday to evade U.S. authorities, leaving the Obama administration scrambling to determine its next step in diplomatic cat-and-mouse game.
Associated Press
Jun 24, 2013


The former National Security Agency contractor and CIA technician fled Hong Kong and arrived at the Moscow airport, where he planned to spend the night before boarding an Aeroflot flight to Cuba. Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said his government received an asylum request from Snowden, and the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said it would help him.

"He goes to the very countries that have, at best, very tense relationships with the United States," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., adding that she feared Snowden would trade more U.S. secrets for asylum. "This is not going to play out well for the national security interests of the United States."

The move left the U.S. with limited options as Snowden's itinerary took him on a tour of what many see as anti-American capitals. Ecuador in particular has rejected the United States' previous efforts at cooperation, and has been helping WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, avoid prosecution by allowing him to stay at its embassy in London.

Snowden gave The Guardian and The Washington Post documents disclosing U.S. surveillance programs that collect vast amounts of phone records and online data in the name of foreign intelligence, but often sweep up information on American citizens. Officials have the ability to collect phone and Internet information broadly but need a warrant to examine specific cases where they believe terrorism is involved.

Snowden had been in hiding for several weeks in Hong Kong, a former British colony with a high degree of autonomy from mainland China. The United States formally sought Snowden's extradition from Hong Kong but was rebuffed; Hong Kong officials said the U.S. request did not fully comply with their laws.

The Justice Department rejected that claim, saying its request met all of the requirements of the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Hong Kong.

During conversations last week, including a phone call Wednesday between Attorney General Eric Holder and Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen, Hong Kong officials never raised any issues regarding sufficiency of the U.S. request, a Justice spokesperson said.

A State Department official said the United States was in touch through diplomatic and law enforcement channels with countries that Snowden could travel through or to, reminding them that Snowden is wanted on criminal charges and reiterating Washington's position that Snowden should only be permitted to travel back to the U.S.

Those officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

The Justice Department said it would "pursue relevant law enforcement cooperation with other countries where Mr. Snowden may be attempting to travel."

The White House would only say that President Barack Obama had been briefed on the developments by his national security advisers.

Russia's state ITAR-Tass news agency and Interfax cited an unnamed Aeroflot airline official as saying Snowden was on the plane that landed Sunday afternoon in Moscow.

Upon his arrival, Snowden did not leave Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. One explanation could be that he wasn't allowed; a U.S. official said Snowden's passport had been revoked, and special permission from Russian authorities would have been needed.

"It's almost hopeless unless we find some ways to lean on them," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

The Russian media report said Snowden intended to fly to Cuba on Monday and then on to Caracas, Venezuela.

U.S. lawmakers scoffed. "The freedom trail is not exactly China-Russia-Cuba-Venezuela, so I hope we'll chase him to the ends of the earth, bring him to justice and let the Russians know there'll be consequences if they harbor this guy," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

With each suspected flight, efforts to secure Snowden's return to the United States appeared more complicated if not impossible. The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, but does with Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador. Even with an extradition agreement though, any country could give Snowden a political exemption.

The likelihood that any of these countries would stop Snowden from traveling on to Ecuador seemed remote. While diplomatic tensions have thawed in recent years, Cuba and the United States are hardly allies after a half century of distrust.

Venezuela, too, could prove difficult. Former President Hugo Chavez was a sworn enemy of the United States and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, earlier this year called Obama "grand chief of devils." The two countries do not exchange ambassadors.

U.S. pressure on Caracas also might be problematic given its energy exports. The U.S. Energy Information Agency reports Venezuela sent the United States 900,000 barrels of crude oil each day in 2012, making it the fourth-largest foreign source of U.S. oil.

"I think 10 percent of Snowden's issues are now legal, and 90 percent political," said Douglas McNabb, an expert in international extradition and a senior principal at international criminal defense firm McNabb Associates.

Assange's lawyer, Michael Ratner, said Snowden's options aren't numerous.

"You have to have a country that's going to stand up to the United States," Ratner said. "You're not talking about a huge range of countries here."

That is perhaps why Snowden first stopped in Russia, a nation with complicated relations with Washington.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is "aiding and abetting Snowden's escape," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

"Allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways, and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States," Schumer said. "That's not how allies should treat one another, and I think it will have serious consequences for the United States-Russia relationship."

It also wasn't clear Snowden was finished with disclosing highly classified information.

"I am very worried about what else he has," said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she had been told Snowden had perhaps more than 200 sensitive documents.



Snowden tells the truth about our government's crimes and is charged with espionage. He will be hunted down across the globe and locked up for the rest of his life if caught by the US government,

Bush/Cheney tell mountains of lies which result in the deaths of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of non-Americans. They receive enormous lifelong pensions.

Things are getting pretty scary.


Re: "Mountains of lies which result in the deaths of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of non-Americans. They receive enormous lifelong pensions."

Been goin' on for MUCH longer.

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution: BIGGER lie, MORE deaths.


Snowden tells the truth about what our government is doing, & they charge him with treason &/or espionage. He'll either be put to death or spend the rest of his life in prison. Would YOU come back??

JMOP's picture

This man will go missing, as soon as the media quits covering him. The kind of missing that only the U.S. government can do.


He will and should!


What's the difference between a traitor and a whistle blower? In the simplest of terms, a traitor is someone who offers "aid and comfort" to enemies. A WHISTLEBLOWER is someone who may indeed offer aid and comfort to enemies, but that's a byproduct to the real goal of reporting egregious criminal acts.

From what we know now, it could very well be that Snowden is a whistleblower. But whether he is or not, I've got the very bad feeling that he'll be found guilty of treason regardless. I don't much LIKE that I don't trust the system in connection with this case, but, well, I don't trust the system.


In the final analysis, Mr. Snowden is a mere DISTRACTION from the REAL issue.

If a short-term, third rate contractor can cause this much scrambling and hand wringing by the American Political Ruling Class and their appointed puppets - this country is in deep caca.


Read what Valerie Plame Wilson and Joe Wilson had to say:

The Big Dog's back

You're a short term distraction pooh.


He is GUILTY of treason. Innocent people don't need or seek asylum. He is also a coward. Short term, third rate? Understatement.


Re: "Short term, third rate? Understatement."

What was his length of employment and how important was his position?


The possibility for abuse of this data collection is unimaginable – the REAL issue.

Tool Box

He is a traitor and needs to be held accountable for his release of confidential information. He has put every American in jeopardy because of his big mouth. Those of us who have nothing to hide really don't care if there is a whole closet full of taped conversations from our phones.


Re: "Those of us who have nothing to hide really don't care if there is a whole closet full of taped conversations from our phones."

You (and your progeny) have "nothing to hide" YET.

Not to worry, when the authorities don't have enough criminals - they MAKE them.

THEY get to decide who is and who is NOT a "terrorist."

Ya better hope that the Repubs NEVER get back in power eh? They 'might' use this data collection against the Dems. But THAT could NEVER happen right? :)


Long enough to have classified info!


Re: "classified info!"

Like what for example?

Also, who's FAULT is that? Reads like the govt. is pretty damn sloppy.

Those who believe that the best and brightest are in govt. are just naïve if not outright stupid.

SWAT team hit the wrong house and killed the owner when he attempted to defend his home - OOPS! NEVER happens right?


Sounds like you hate America. Don't worry, the market will be okay!


It sounds like YOU hate America. People like you are pretty much asking for a big brother government to always be watching over you, and you don't care. But this is a government for the people, by the people, and when the people fall asleep at the wheel, big brother takes over.


Thought he was a whistleblower..thought he did something good shining a light on all this.amazing how that quickly turned

sandtown born a...

He is a piece of garbage , He should be hunted down and tried and executed just like any other traitor should be dealt with.


Yep, what a "patriot"-- hah! Runs to the two biggest threats to this country. I do hope they find him and pull an Osama on his traitorous behind.

The Big Dog's back

Great minds think alike meowmix. Bury him at sea.


You believe it BD!!


I was in the military for 8 years and we've only been successful in securing our country by appointing people that don't have a shaky past and giving them a security clearance to help protect us with critical information. That's why we still have baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet. So he jeopardizes our way of life by giving away info?! He's so wrong for that! He was making 120,000 a year without a degree! He knew when they gave him the job what was at stake.


Degrees are ridiculous, especially in the technological field. It doesn't take 6 years, or 4 years, or 2 years to obtain the skills needed for what he was doing, it takes about 6 months if you teach yourself. But people like you were brainwashed with the belief that you need a college degree to get anywhere in life.

2cents's picture

Yes, he opened a can that may have needed opening. But why leave him out there with a head full of data. Bring him home and put him back to work in one form or another, maybe he is a true American in the entire tradition and wanted to do the right thing. Did he take $$$ for saying what he said? If they have a big problem send out a few hit guys an whack him!


Found a great link in the comment section of Contango's offered link. Ya might want to check it out.

Tool Box

He's going down! And anyone helping him will also be history! I pity the fool!

Darwin's choice

Perfect for most of the commenters here......

2cents's picture

Hey, I posted that here last year LMAO : )

Darwin's choice

I saw it then! And it still fits them....


Snowden is a whistle-blower and is exposing the truth and the lies. Remember Robert Hanssen (FBI) and Aldrich Ames (CIA)? Some of their ilk are the ones that need to be hunted down and brought to justice.

Why is our government sending our young soldiers off to battle the terrorists yet our government gives aid to the terrorists in Libya, Syria and other places? What about those who lied and sent millions of our young people off to wars based on those lies?

Bring the troops home to go after the domestic enemies within our own government.

Tool Box

Snowden is a traitor and needs to be held accountable! Jail for life! His life is over!


A traitor because he exposed the illegal acts of our government against American civilians? The NSA even has information from internet chat rooms from years ago.

What if he exposed the illegal executions of government whistle-blowers here on American soil? There are many government whistle-blowers who have been intimidated to keep quiet. Others were eliminated and never found. For others, their deaths by government hitmen were ruled a suicide or from natural causes due to poison.

What if he exposed the Gulf Of Tonkin lie? Would he be a traitor if he prevented millions of soldiers being shipped overseas to an illegal war?
"10 Reasons The U.S. Is No Longer The Land Of The Free"
(Published 1, January 15, 2012)