Thursday, August 1, 2013
Edward Snowden given "asylum"
Even as the sentencing phase of Pfc. Bradley Manning's case moves forward in Ft. Meade, Md., another leaker of secret documents, Edward Snowden, has been granted a year's asylum in Russia and has left the Moscow airport where he has been holed up for more than five weeks.
From an outsider's point of view, it's a little hard not to worry about what, precisely, Snowden's "asylum" is worth. After all, the punk rockers "Pussy Riot," two of whose members remain jailed for two years after a 2012 guerrilla protest performance in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, have remained in jail despite bids for parole. The group was protesting church support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Their crime was "hooliganism."
If Russia is unwilling to sustain dissent on its own soil, why should Russia be trusted not to sell out a man like Edward Snowden if the United States brings enough threats or blandishments to bear? And if a Russian version of Edward Snowden should magically appear and reveal Kremlin secrets, would Putin be likely to grant him asylum?
Remember, the same country that granted Edward Snowden a year's asylum also put a dead auditor, Sergei Magnitsky, on trial after he blew the whistle on embezzlement in high places. Magnitsky, 37, was jailed and died in prison ... with a suspicious number of beating wounds on his body. The official cause of death was "pancreatitis." The court found the dead man guilty. The allegations of fraud and theft dribbled into obscurity.
I'm not sure that Snowden's "asylum" guarantees his safety.