Free At Last

No Need to elaborate on this post. As of this morning, Edward Snowden was issued temporary asylum in Russia. He is allowed to legally reside in the country for one year with the option to apply for renewal when the year is up. With his newly issued Russian passport in hand, Edward Snowden left the transit zone and took his first steps into Moscow as a (temporary) citizen of Russia. According to New York Magazine, Snowden was accompanied by Wikileaks rep Sarah Harrison. 

This couldn’t have happened at a better time. The heat has died down from other news stories such as the Zimmerman trial and the Anthony Weiner scandal (redux) so this story can once again take the spotlight. This comforting ending also signals my departure from this blog. I am currently concentrating on other projects that require more of my attention and while the Edward Snowden story can break something new at any moment, my focus needs to be placed on other topics. But don’t fear, if something monumental occurs regarding Snowden, I will be here to report on it.

I’m glad to hear that Snowden is finally somewhere safe, I hope this brings him some sense of closure.

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Mother Russia?

In my last post, I stated that I was eagerly expecting information on Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia. After all, the man released statements that he would like to begin building a life for himself in the potential new homeland, maybe even settle down, get a job, and find a new girlfriend. While there certainly has been news regarding the case that has been released today, I’m having a hard time trying to piece together exactly what’s going on. I’m sure you are too reader, which is why I will put these developments together and try to sort through this mess in today’s post.

This morning, multiple news sources such as NBC news, the New York Times, New York Magazine, and many others released articles stating that Russian media outlets Interfax and RIA Novosti stated that Edward Snowden was issued a certificate confirming his asylum request. This certificate also granted him the permission he needed to leave the transit zone of the Moscow airport and move about the country while the rest of his application is processed. But earlier this afternoon, new reports from the same sources state that is no longer the case. The New York Times reports that Snowden has in fact not received the certificate in question.

NBC News has confirmed that he has been in contact with the lawyer assisting him with the paperwork, Anatoly Kucheren, and there is still no word from the proper authorities as of yet. Snowden kept his few belongings as well as a copy of Crime and Punishment close as he awaits his fate. Because of this, It looks like Snowden will be staying in the transit zone for at least one more night.

What happened here? Why was it reported this morning that Snowden was free to establish himself in Russia when it in fact wasn’t true? Reporters spent the entire day outside the entrance to Sheremetyevo airport just to have his lawyer emerge to dispel the happy rumor? There are a possibility of explanations but only two seem slightly credible. The less credible of the two is that Putin wasn’t quite ready to grant this temporary asylum yet. Snowden has already promised that he will not leak any information and Putin has made it very clear that he will not be extraditing the NSA leaker back to the US. With that said, Putin may have something to lose if this asylum is granted. US and Russia relations are already on shaky ground and if Putin grants temporary asylum, it may risk Obama’s visit with him scheduled for September. 

The other, more plausible reason for this madness is that the press misreported the story. On Monday, almost all articles pertaining to the Snowden case stated that Snowden would have some sort of tangible response by Wednesday. The actual quote is that Snowden could have a response as early as Wednesday, a big difference from the first phrase above. Because of that, the press demanded information today, as opposed to waiting it out, and were willing to report the news that they did no matter what actually happened. Misreporting is not new in our media, as we are unfortunately responsible for reporting incorrect information in times of tragedy, presidential elections, etc. This may just be another instance of the press reporting what it wants to because it simply can. The media was eager for a story and sources weren’t reporting fast enough so they could have made it up until other information was confirmed.

I don’t know how much longer Snowden will be stuck in the transit zone. The situation is being increasingly compared to the movie The Terminal, in which Tom Hanks’ character is stuck in the transit zone at an airport. I do however hope that this situation gives way to some sort of concrete answer for Snowden soon as the man does need to establish his next moves should the situation with Russia fall through. No one can establish a new life from the inside of an airport. In the meantime though, the man has Crime and Punishment to keep him busy.

It’s Just His Opinion

Because my final masters paper is due in less than a week, I’ll be brief in this post. After all, the keys to fixing terrestrial radio cannot simply write themselves. Anyways, onto the Snowden headlines!

Since we last spoke, nothing monumental has occurred in this case. Edward Snowden formally put in his application for temporary asylum with Russia, but we all saw that coming from miles away. The official application however puts Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin in a rough spot. He does not want to further damage his country’s tenuous relationship with the United States. But he also thinks that this whole situation will eventually blow over and work itself out. According to New York Magazine, Putin is not really sure what to make of Snowden himself.  “He’s a young man,” said Putin. “In fact, I do not even really understand how he intends to continue to build his life. But it was his destiny and his choice. And we have our own national objectives.” I think that as long as Snowden keeps his word regarding the end to leaking information during his stay, Putin will grant him temporary, but not permanent, asylum. In Putin’s eyes, the sooner Snowden leaves, the better.

Here lies the real issue at hand. Obama is supposed to pay a visit to Russia in the coming months in order sit down with Putin and well, have a chat regarding said tenuous relations. According to the BBC, “Mr Putin is clearly aware of the sensitivities involved, and the issue risks overshadowing talks with US President Barack Obama who is due to visit Russia in September.” I’m sure that no one wants the Snowden asylum issue to interfere with these talks, including Snowden himself. However, the tedious relations will become even more tense if asylum is granted. You better hold onto your hats readers, because once an asylum, temporary or permanent, decision has been made, this story will become a lot more interesting.