Nelson Moura,

Correspondent (Our World)


When the world-famous US whistleblower Edward Snowden released his statement at Sheremetyevo Moscow airport, he introduced himself the following way: Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.

However, the passage of his spoken manifesto that caught my eye most was the following, regarding the persecution he claims to be facing from the American authorities: “Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless.”

nsa whistleblower

He proclaimed this last statement while accompanied by two Russian human rights activists, who helped formalise his asylum request to the Russian government. What those human right activists could have informed him is that Mr. Putins’ government has not exactly made stellar efforts to become a champion for human rights.

Just one month before Snowden’s press conference, the Russian parliament unanimously passed a law banning so called “gay propaganda” and the spreading of “non-traditional behaviours”. This law effectively made it illegal to consider gay and straight relationships equal and to promote gay rights information. In fact minutes earlier, the same parliament approved a law that extends jail sentences for “offending religious feelings” up to three years.

A law was tailored to extend the sentences for the two currently jailed members of the anti-Kremlin punk rock band Pussy Riot. Even more shocking was when a Russian court refused to suspend the two-year jail sentence for Maria Alyokhina until her five-year-old son turned 14.

Or maybe Snowden could be reminded after stating: “I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression” of the fate of Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky — a lawyer who after revealing a $230 million fraud by police and tax officials, was arrested and charged of the same fraud, later to be killed in prison, allegedly after a fatal beating.

Although some people can accuse Snowden of political naiveté, the case seems to be more of practical politics. After applying for political asylum to 26 countries and being refused, he’s still stranded at Moscow’s airport terminal for three weeks. The US government has suspended Snowden’s passport and Putin’s refusal to grant him a safe haven places him in a political limbo, from where there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out. Assange’s current stay at London’s Ecuadorian embassy is a clear example of a similar trap.

His window of opportunity  his slowly disappearing, and unless Snowden quickly  finds some friends he may be defenestrated out of the same window.

God knows he seems to be looking for a pact with the devil.

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