Monday, 24 June 2013

Edward Snowden and 'Hobson's Choice'!

THE Obama administration is putting pressure on the Russian regime to hang onto the surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden.  Caitlin Hayden, a bit of a boss for the National Security Council (NSA), has asked the Russians not to let Snowden leave its territory, and suggested that if Snowden gets away it would set back relations between President Obama and the Putin regime.

Meanwhile, Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s foreign minister, speaking in Hanoi, said it was considering Snowden’s asylum request but did not know where he was. He said:
'I cannot give you information about that. We are in contact with the Russian government, but this specific information about this precise situation of Edward Snowden, we cannot give it to you right now, because we don't have it.'

Senor Patino read out what he said was a statement from Snowden, in which the whistleblower compared himself to WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, currently on trial in the US for 'aiding the enemy'. Snowden apparently said:
'It is unlikely that I will have a fair trial or humane treatment before trial, and also I have the risk of life imprisonment or death.'
For their part the Russian officials claim they lack the legal authority to detain Snowden. 'The Americans can’t demand anything,' human-rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin told Interfax, saying that as long as Snowden did not leave the Moscow airport’s secure transit area, he was not on Russian soil and could not be seized.

The latest news is that Edward Snowden’s whereabouts are currently unknown after he failed to get on an Aeroflot flight the Russian airline said he was booked on from Moscow to Havana. It has been assumed that he was heading via Cuba for Ecuador; Quito’s foreign minister Ricardo Aroca said yesterday the country had received an asylum application from him. But amid farcical scenes the plane full of journalists – and presumably representatives of various governments – took off for Cuba without him. One reporter tweeted a picture of Snowden's empty chair.

On Sunday, with much of the world’s attention captivated on Snowden’s attempts to span the globe in pursuit of asylum, the NSA director Keith Alexander said that Snowden’s disclosures of widespread US surveillance on phone records and Internet communications caused 'significant and irreversible damage' to the US and its allies.

Since then a senior Obama administration official who would not provide his or her name told reporters late on Sunday that Snowden’s presumed travel plan undermined the whistleblower’s stated intent to tell the American people about broad government surveillance.

'Mr Snowden's claim that he is focused on supporting transparency, freedom of the press and protection of individual rights and democracy is belied by the protectors he has potentially chosen: China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador,' said the official, who did not note that the US was simultaneously attempting to secure the cooperation of China and Russia.  And he added:
'His failure to criticise these regimes suggests that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the US, not to advance internet freedom and free speech.'

The trouble is in the real world when one takes on the super powers like Mr. Snowden has it becomes a bit like 'Hobson's Choice' picking and choosing between the devil you know and t'other buggers.

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