Espionage Suspect Edward Snowden’s Final Destination is Clear

Snowden

Espionage suspect, Edward Snowden, departed Hong Kong  for Moscow, on his mission to find a final destination that will give him a place of rest from U.S. extradition. The former NSA contractor, now leaker, has been on the run since divulging privileged information about the governments expansive snooping program called PRISM. While Snowden is country hopping, doing everything he can to enter the borders of a country that will give him a resting place, he will find no rest. His final destination is a life on the run.

The Washington Post reports, an Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong carrying Edward Snowden, the former contractor who leaked top-secret documents about U.S. surveillance programs, landed at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Russia on Sunday.

Snowden faces new test as he leaves Hong Kong. Russian news agency Interfax and Radio Ekho Moskvy reported that Snowden was booked on a flight to Cuba and then from Havana to Caracas, Venezuela. The next Aeroflot flight to Havana leaves Monday afternoon. Ecuador and Iceland have also been mentioned as possibilities.

There were doubts among many that Snowden may have been kept in safe havens in Asia on account of the increasing tension between the U.S. and Chinese government’s simultaneous claims of cyber attacks. Some may have wondered whether the governments of Hong Kong and mainland China were working in unison on Snowden’s case to purposefully rub the U.S. government the wrong way.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing said in a statement Sunday evening it had seen the reports of Snowden’s departure but did not have “specific details,” saying it would continue to pay attention to developments. The government added that it was “deeply concerned” about reports of U.S. government cyber attacks on China, saying “it proved that China is a victim of cyber attacks.”

The statement also said China opposes all forms of cyber attacks. “China is willing to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with international community based on the spirit of mutual respect, make joint effort to maintain peace and security in cyberspace.”

After a series of country hopping expeditions, the ending is nearing. A black BMW with diplomatic license plates assigned to the Ecuadorian Embassy was seen parked at Sheremetyevo, but it was unclear who might have been in the car.

As Edward Snowden boarded a plane to leave Hong Kong, he embarked on a new and more daring test: trying to convince multiple governments, many in the Western hemisphere (within the U.S. sphere of influence) to give him stay in their countries. Snowden is being aided in his travel by WikiLeaks Kristinn Harfnsson, an Icelandic investigative journalist and spokesman for WikiLeaks, said he had made contact with the Icelandic government on Snowden’s behalf, but had been told that asylum seekers need to be present and within that nation’s jurisdiction before any claim could be processed. Harfnsson added that people “within the Wikileaks circle” had also approached “other governments” on Snowden’s behalf, but declined to be more specific.

Moscow will be the determining factor of whether Snowden is captured or not. They will either need to allow Snowden to board a plane back to the West or detain him for extradition.

However, Edward Snowden’s suspected espionage didn’t sway the opinion of the Ecuadorian government, making his final destination ever more clear. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño recently said Quito would be willing to consider an asylum claim by Snowden. But, it will be up to the Russian government to aid his transport to Cuba, if Snowden wished to land in Ecuador. The extradition treaties between the United States and both Ecuador and Venezuela state that offenses of “a political character” do not warrant extradition—much like the United States’ agreement with Hong Kong.

“If he wants to seek asylum from the Ecuadorian government he can do so, and we, of course will analyze it,” Patiño said during the news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy. Authorities in Ecuador would weigh a petition “responsibly, just like we did so in Mr.{Julian} Assange’s case,” the minister added. Assange, the head of the anti-secrecy group, has been unable to leave the Ecuadorian embassy because the United Kingdom has refused to provide him safe passage while he faces rape charges in Sweden.

Espionage is something frowned upon by every nation-state,regardless if they give amnesty or not. It shows unwillingness to cooperate with the standard operating procedures of government; it gives off an impression that someone can’t be trusted. So, what does this mean for Edward Snowden?

Snowden will lead a life of always looking over his shoulder: from fear of not only the U.S. government, but whatever governmental territory is his final destination (likely Ecuador).

Although, Ecuador, like many countries, have the tendency to disallow extradition on political grounds, there is grey area: politics is always involved. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has emerged as one of the loudest critics of U.S. policy in the Western hemisphere. In 2011, his administration expelled the American ambassador in Quito to protest a cable released by WikiLeaks that alleged the Ecuadorian police force was rife with corruption.

Snowden bravery is exemplified in his willingness to leave, facing more uncertainty in another country like Russia. Snowden left  Hong Kong “on his own accord for a third country,” the government in Hong Kong said Sunday afternoon. Whether, this is true or not, remains to be seen–but, nobody can deny the feeling Snowden must feel everyday: the feeling of being the only man alive; or one who the whole world seeks to attack.

The upcoming week will test Snowen’s resolve.

Edward Snowden has been on the run for a long time now, his staying power to continue on this rogue journey remains to be seen. And, there are many who believe he is a rogue. USA Today reports House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers as saying the U.S. government must exhaust all legal options to get Snowden back. “Every one of those nations is hostile to the United States,” Rogers, R-Mich., said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “When you think about what he says he wants and what his actions are, it defies logic,” said Rogers, who repeated his assertion that Snowden’s leaks of secret government surveillance programs had damaged U.S. national security.

In the end, Edward Snowden’s espionage has led him to a clear final destination: Ecuadorian protection and U.S. government detection and a never-ending hunt for the man who cast a bright light on the U.S. governments slippery slope towards a Big Brother society.

By Cedric Hines

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