Edward Snowden Ecuador: He's Not a Spy, He's Just Fleeing Life in Prison
Edward Snowden did an incredibly brave and heroic deed in becoming a whistleblower against the most powerful government in the world. The price he will pay is staying away from home (and living somewhat on the run) for the rest of life.
Around the same time that Snowden leaked the documents that proved the existence of PRISM, he fled the country to Hong Kong. He said he knew that he would not be able to return home, and he was right about that. The U.S. charged Snowden with espionage on Friday. Subsequently, they asked Hong Kong authorities to turn him over to U.S. officials.
Of course, Hong Kong is not eager to comply with the U.S. at the moment, and particularly when it comes to Snowden. Part-and-parcel of the whole Snowden affair are allegations that the U.S. has been hacking into Chinese and Hong Kong computer networks, sometimes using PRISM. In a spectacularly passive-aggressive move, Hong Kong replied to the U.S.'s request for Snowden by stating that the warrant "did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law." They then also asked for more information regarding the U.S.'s clandestine hacking:
"Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong."
Snowden isn't waiting around to see how long this feud plays out, though. On Sunday morning, he boarded a plane from Hong Kong to Moscow. He is being aided by Wikileaks, a natural partnership if there ever was one, who is also keeping the world updated on Snowden's travels through press releases and Twitter updates.
The plan is for Snowden to catch a flight from Moscow to Havana, Cuba on Monday, with his final destination being Ecuador. His request for asylum in the country has already been received by the country. It seems likely that Ecuadorian President Correa will accept the request, considering that the country is also sheltering Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.
Naturally, since Snowden has already been accused of leaking secrets to the Chinese, his visits to Russia and Cuba are just creating more fodder for the rumor mills. Already, there are claims that he is passing on more intelligence secrets to the Russians and the Cubans.
What's far more likely, however, is that Snowden is just trying to get to his next safe house as fast as possible. By stopping over in countries where the U.S. has limited diplomatic influence, he's limiting the likelihood of U.S. authorities getting their hands on him.