Snowden's Situation is Looking Increasingly Grim


Credit: The Guardian

While Snowden may have taken refuge in the transit zone at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after fleeing Hong Kong it now appears that Russian officials are keen to have the NSA whistleblower off Russian territory. According to Wikileaks, Snowden has applied for asylum in 21 countries. None of these countries have granted Snowden asylum.

American authorities are already preparing for Snowden to try and flee to South America, sending an arrest warrant to Ireland, thereby making a stopover there very risky.

In Iceland, an attempt by some legislators to grant Snowden citizenship didn't receive much support.

In addition to the diplomatic and legal obstacles facing Snowden it looks like an increasing number of Americans believe he did the wrong thing when he released classified documents relating to NSA surveillance programs.

Over at Politico Philip Ewing has argued that Snowden's worst fear, that nothing will change as a result of his revelations, may be coming true:

One month after the Guardian's first story, which revealed an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing the NSA to collect the phone records of every Verizon customer, there has been no public movement in Washington to stop the court from issuing another such order. Congress has no intelligence reform bill that would rein in the phone-tracking, or Internet monitoring, or cyberattack-planning, or any of the other secret government workings that Snowden's disclosures have revealed.

Unless a government unexpectedly decides to grant Snowden asylum or he decides to try and flee Sheremetyevo airport it looks like Snowden will be back in the U.S. sooner than he expected under less than desirable circumstances.

Snowden knew when he revealed the extent of the NSA's collection of communication meta-data that he would be in trouble with American authorities. You would have to be very stupid or naive to believe that leaks go unpunished or are forgotten. Anyone who has been following the Snowden story knows that he is not stupid. I don't know how likely Snowden thought it would be that he would be granted asylum by a foreign government. If he expected to be granted asylum easily, which seems unlikely given the amount of preparation he put into leaking the information he did, then the last few weeks have almost certainly been an unpleasant grounding in reality. If he did expect that asylum was far from guaranteed then it remains to be seen what Snowden's Plan B looks like.