Evading the Law: Where Is Edward Snowden Now?

Freedom, News, Politics

edward snowden bannerNational Security Agency (NSA) whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been called a traitor by Secretary of State John Kerry. Believing he is being persecuted in the U.S. for using his right to free speech to reveal information on government abuses, Snowden has fled the country. With looming fears that chances of a fair trial are slim in the U.S. — and possibly facing treason charges and life in prison or the death penalty — Snowden is on the lookout for a permanent safe haven.

Where in the World Is Edward Snowden?

June 5-6: Media announces that the NSA has been collecting cell phone and internet usage data.

June 9: Edward Snowden — technical contractor for the NSA and CIA — revealed as the leak source, supposedly taking refuge in Hong Kong.

June 21: Federal prosecutors publicly charge Snowden with espionage and theft of government property.

June 22: U.S. issues formal request for China to hand over Snowden.

June 23: Snowden leaves Hong Kong (which doesn’t harbor refugees), where no one stops him from leaving; although asked by the U.S. to detain Snowden, the request doesn’t fully comply with Hong Kong law. Snowden lands in Russia and books a seat on a Havana-bound flight from Moscow on en route to Venezuela and then possible asylum in Ecuador. However, he doesn’t board the plane, and Snowden’s passport is revoked.

June 25: Russian President Vladimir Putin bluntly rejects U.S. pleas to extradite Snowden, saying he is free to travel wherever he wants. Believed to be in the transit zone of a Moscow airport and not having passed through Russian immigration, he is not even technically in Russia.

Although the U.S. wants Moscow to comply with common law practices between countries where fugitives are concerned, Russia has no extradition agreement with the U.S. Despite Russia’s denial, analysts believe Russian special services wouldn’t miss the chance to question the man who is believed to hold reams of classified U.S. documents.

Snowden has written a letter to the Ecuadorian government, asking for political asylum in Ecuador. Snowden may stand a chance of refuge there, since Ecuador’s extradition treaty with the U.S. excludes those under “political motif” prosecution. The country has a habit of protecting high-profile refugees, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Originally, Snowden’s refuge of choice would have been Iceland; unfortunately, Icelandic law requires that asylum requests be made from within the country.

Tips for Taking a Sneaky Trip

Countries that have diplomatic ties to the U.S. but no formal extradition treaty include China, Russia, most African countries, and many countries in the Middle East, although Hong Kong does have a bilateral extradition treaty with the U.S. These countries are not duty-bound to fulfill any requests for extradition, but they may do so in order to maintain good relations with the U.S. Even better for fugitives are countries that have no diplomatic ties to the U.S. as well as no active extradition treaty–including Iran, North Korea, and Cuba.