July 28th marks the 35th anniversary of the political assassination of two Puerto Rican independence activists, Carlos Soto Arriví and Arnaldo Darío Rosado, in the infamous Cerro Maravillai case. This case, which was widely followed among Puerto Ricans, involved an agent provocateur that led the activists to an ambush that resulted in their brutal murder by paramilitary agents within the colonial police force. The event led to two investigations, the second of which revealed a conspiracy to cover up both the assassination plot as well as the destruction and manipulation of evidence carried out by the colonial police and justice department, and well as the federal justice department and FBI. Cerro Maravilla symbolizes for many the most outstanding recent example of repressive measures, from surveillance to political assassination, unleashed by US imperialism against the anticolonial movement in Puerto Rico.
The recent revelations of NSA spying by Edward Snowden have provoked mass outrage across the globe. Much of the consternation comes from what is commonly understood as a violation of privacy. In the official media, Snowden’s actions have been framed as a debate between ‘national security’ and ‘privacy’. However, framing the question in these terms is pure subterfuge. The Puerto Rican experience shows that the true objectives of surveillance programs by intelligence agencies like the NSA, CIA, and FBI having nothing to do with ‘security’ or ‘protection’ but rather political repression. Systematic surveillance can only be understood as an essential part of state repression, the purpose of which is to intimidate those that question the status quo by promoting a culture of fear. One can never be separated from the other.
The systematic surveillance and repression of Puerto Rico’s anticolonial movement is obviously just one example of many. A brief historical sketch of US imperialism’s repressive efforts against anticolonial forces in Puerto Rico must begin with the political intrigues that preceded the 1898 military invasion as well as the martial law that characterized both military and civilian colonial governments in its immediate aftermath. This history goes on to include the surveillance and repressive attacks against the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and its followers from the 30s through the 50s, which included massacres of unarmed civilians, political assassinations and imprisonments, the harassment and attacks against labor unions and newly emergent socialist organizations of the same period, as well as COINTELPRO operations against resurgent nationalist and socialist political formations during the 60s and 70s.ii Indeed, in 1987 it was revealed that over 130,000 files on individuals and organizations had been accumulated through systematic surveillance on the island. This history is an integral part of the parallel campaigns of systematic state repression unleashed within the United States against groups such as the Black Liberation Movement, the American Indian Movement, the Chicano Liberation Movement, radical labor organizations, progressive students and antiwar activists, as well as communists.iii As such, what constitutes a scandal for the broader public is in fact part of the daily reality for those that fight for freedom and an end to oppression.
Snowden’s revelation that the United States Security Group Command’s Sabana Seca installation, located in the northern coastal municipality of Toa Baja, is part of an international surveillance network, which includes the Fornstat program, comes to no surprise to Puerto Rican anticolonial activists. From Sabana Seca, US naval intelligence monitors and gathers Internet, phone, and other forms of communication. In 1999, Duncan Campbell and Mark Honigsbaum of The Guardian already highlighted the naval intelligence’s “Echelon” operations from Sabana Seca and other locations both in the US and internationally as part of joint US British surveillance programs.iv
What is critical to highlight about US imperialism in Puerto Rico is the continued military character of colonialism on the island. For the benefit of those that may be unaware or who take the position that US militarism characterized only the past history of colonialism in Puerto Rico, a few contemporary examples serve to illustrate the point. Over the past decade and a half, Puerto Ricans have mobilized en masse to oppose a proposed military radar system intended for the Lajas valley in the southwestern part of the island, to end the practice of using the eastern island of Vieques as a bombing range by the US military and its allies (It should be noted that there was also a successful campaign to end the militarization of Culebra island also off the eastern coast of the main island in the 70s), and in more recent times against a system of potentially toxic and environmentally destructive antennas used both by the military and cellular companies that have proliferated across the island. In an article in the current issue of Claridad, the spokesperson for the grassroots Coalition of Communities Against the Proliferation of Antennas, Wilson Torres, sheds light on the US military’s Full Spectrum Dominance program currently being implemented in Puerto Rico. v
Understood in the context of pervasive unemployment, which serves to ensure an ever present pool of recruits used as cannon fodder in US military campaigns throughout the world as well as the structural dependence of large parts of the colonial economy on the Pentagon, this picture constitutes the modified form of US militarism in Puerto Rico in the present context. One may add the militarization of the colonial police force in the ongoing attacks against residents of public housing and other marginalized communities to this reality.
It would not be difficult to draw parallels between much of what is described immediately above and the realities faced by many North Americans. Heavy-handed policing and economically depressed communities dependent upon military or prison industries are a familiar reality for many. Yet the notion that the United States of America is characterized by a repressive state is much more difficult for the average person to accept. The narrative of 9/11 provides the pretext that results in the conflation of national security and state repression in the minds of many.
Notwithstanding, the revelations about the NSA spying program have provoked the condemnation of all except the most recalcitrant sycophants of US imperialism. Yet, it is absolutely necessary to place these programs in the context of the long history of state repression and militarism. Those on the left must push to extend the public discourse beyond questions of personal privacy to a discussion of systematic political repression within increasingly militarized “liberal” democracies. The experiences of anticolonial activists and militant, class-conscious revolutionaries from Puerto Rico lend valuable insights that add to the discussion around the significance of what Snowden’s leaks reveal: systematic surveillance and state repression are two sides of the same coin.
An insightful comment by Marx, writing in the New York Daily Tribune about British imperialism in India during the mid 1800s and often repeated among Puerto Rican comrades, is a useful starting point for the US left:
“The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization lies unveiled before our eyes, moving from its home, where it assumes respectable form, to the colonies, where it goes naked.”
Carlos Borrero is a New York based writer.
I spent the summer of 1961 behind the Iron Curtain. I was part of the US–USSR student exchange program. It was the second year of the program that operated under auspices of the US Department of State. Our return to the West via train through East Germany was interrupted by the construction of the Berlin Wall. We were sent back to Poland. The East German rail tracks were occupied with Soviet troop and tank trains as the Red Army concentrated in East Germany to face down any Western interference.
Fortunately, in those days there were no neoconservatives. Washington had not grown the hubris it so well displays in the 21st century. The wall was built and war was avoided. The wall backfired on the Soviets. Both JFK and Ronald Reagan used it to good propaganda effect.
In those days America stood for freedom, and the Soviet Union for oppression. Much of this impression was created by Western propaganda, but there was some semblance to the truth in the image. The communists had a Julian Assange and an Edward Snowden of their own. His name was Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty, the leader of the Hungarian Catholic Church.
Mindszenty opposed tyranny. For his efforts he was imprisoned by the Nazis. Communists also regarded him as an undesirable, and he was tortured and given a life sentence in 1949.
Freed by the short-lived Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Mindszenty reached the American Embassy in Budapest and was granted political asylum by Washington. However, the communists would not give him the free passage that asylum presumes, and Mindszenty lived in the US Embassy for 15 years — 79% of his remaining life.
In the 21st century roles have reversed. Today it is Washington that is enamored of tyranny. On Washington’s orders, the UK will not permit Julian Assange free passage to Ecuador, where he has been granted asylum. Like Cardinal Mindszenty, Assange is stuck in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.
Washington will not permit its European vassal states to allow overflights of airliners carrying Edward Snowden to any of the countries that have offered Snowden asylum. Snowden is stuck in the Moscow airport.
In Washington politicians of both parties demand that Snowden be captured and executed. Politicians demand that Russia be punished for not violating international law, seizing Snowden, and turning him over to Washington to be tortured and executed, despite the fact that Washington has no extradition treaty with Russia.
Snowden did United States citizens a great service. He told us that despite constitutional prohibition, Washington had implemented a universal spy system intercepting every communication of every American and much of the rest of the world. Special facilities are built in which to store these communications.
In other words, Snowden did what Americans are supposed to do — disclose government crimes against the Constitution and against citizens. Without a free press there is nothing but the government’s lies. In order to protect its lies from exposure, Washington intends to exterminate all truth tellers.
The Obama Regime is the most oppressive regime ever in its prosecution of protected whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are protected by law, but the Obama Regime insists that whistleblowers are not really whistleblowers. Instead, the Obama Regime defines whistleblowers as spies, traitors, and foreign agents. Congress, the media, and the faux judiciary echo the executive branch propaganda that whistleblowers are a threat to America. It is not the government that is violating and raping the US Constitution that is a threat. It is the whistleblowers who inform us of the rape who are the threat.
The Obama Regime has destroyed press freedom. A lackey federal appeals court has ruled that NY Times reporter James Risen must testify in the trial of a CIA officer charged with providing Risen with information about CIA plots against Iran. The ruling of this fascist court destroys confidentiality and is intended to end all leaks of the government’s crimes to media.
What Americans have learned in the 21st century is that the US government lies about everything and breaks every law. Without whistleblowers, Americans will remain in the dark as “their” government enserfs them, destroying every liberty, and impoverishes them with endless wars for Washington’s and Wall Street’s hegemony.
Snowden harmed no one except the liars and traitors in the US government. Contrast Washington’s animosity against Snowden with the pardon that Bush gave to Dick Cheney aide, Libby, who took the fall for his boss for blowing the cover, a felony, on a covert CIA operative, the spouse of a former government official who exposed the Bush/Cheney/neocon lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Whatever serves the tiny clique that rules america is legal; whatever exposes the criminals is illegal.
That’s all there is to it.
Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Failure-Capitalism-Economic-Dissolution-ebook/dp/B00BLPJNWE/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1362095594&sr=8-17&keywords=paul+craig+roberts
Let’s be clear: Everything journalists do in the digital world is open to scrutiny by suspicious minds because that’s the way intelligence agencies work. If state eavesdroppers didn’t make use of this amazing opportunity they wouldn’t be very good at their job.
Edward Snowden’s revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency‘s global monitoring should not come as a big surprise. U.S. agencies have the technology, the will, and some very loosely written laws that allow them to snoop with impunity. It was just a matter of time before someone stood up and blew the whistle.
What Snowden has told us should serve as a wake-up call for everybody in the news business because a journalist who cannot offer confidentiality is compromised, and fewer sources will trust us in the future. But the Internet has come a long way in recent years. The development of security tools, almost all of which are built by activist volunteers, can make the digital world a far safer place for journalists to operate. In this regard, journalists can learn from others who–for different reasons–have learned how to evade electronic surveillance, as I explain in my new guide, “Deep Web for Journalists,” a project supported by the International Federation of Journalists.
Here’s why you should care. Start researching sensitive subjects or visiting extremist websites, and a tracking device could be planted to follow your computer’s activities around the Internet. The tracking technology may involve an algorithm that could misconstrue your browsing activities and set off alarms inside intelligence agencies. And if these agencies become interested in you, they have the ability to monitor your online activities and read your emails. They can see who your contacts are and they can monitor them, too. Once they sink their claws in they may never let go.
All journalists are potential targets. We have contact with politicians and activists, we have our finger on the pulse and we are capable of causing all kinds of trouble, both to governments and to corporations. The key is to not draw attention in the first place, to understand how agencies operate and then figure out multiple ways to circumvent them because you cannot rely on any single security application or piece of technology.
In the final scene of the Hollywood film, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the Ark of the Covenant is hidden inside one crate placed among a humongous warehouse full of identical crates. The scene helps illustrate an operating principle for journalist. Simply put, if intelligence agencies do not know where to look for information they are less likely to ever find yours.
It may surprise some people to learn that there is in fact another Internet, a parallel and vast digital universe much like the one we know but that is populated by very different users. The Deep Web, as it is also known, involves hidden networks allowing people to secretly connect with each other within the broader Internet.
One way to find the Deep Web is through the Hidden Wiki. Its hidden networks are accessed via specifically configured web browsers that route users through different servers, often in different nations, to make it all but impossible for anyone to track the original location or Internet Service Provider address where someone is physically accessing the Internet including the Deep Web.
The most widely used such network is Tor, a respectable tool built by Internet freedom volunteers that is open to use by human rights activists, and also to abuse by criminal syndicates, predators, terrorists and others.
To enter Tor, you must first install the Tor/Firefox web browser to divert your traffic through a worldwide volunteer network of servers. This conceals your location and your activities, effectively hiding you among all the other users. Tor works by encrypting and re-encrypting data multiple times as it passes through successive relays. This way the data cannot be unscrambled in transit. (Tor is so effective, in fact, that many intelligence agencies now use it for their own secure communications.)
Now add to this a range of security tools and you can use Tor to access the conventional Internet without ever drawing attention. Rather like spies in a James Bond movie, journalists have an array of digital weapons to call upon to ensure that their research, correspondence, notes and contacts are secure. Learning the concepts and tools can take time, but you can access banned websites. You can continue tweeting when the authorities take down Twitter locally. You can scramble calls or send emails and messages that cannot be intercepted or read. You can pass on and store documents away from prying eyes. You might even hide news footage of a massacre inside a Beatles track on your iPod or smartphone while you slip across the border.
The Internet has evolved and so has its counter-surveillance tools. Now we must get smart and learn how to use them. We must safeguard our devices from intruders; we should take care that our smartphones are not used as tracking and listening devices. We need to learn how to stay beneath the radar.
Alan Pearce is a journalist who has reported for outlets including Time, The Sunday Times, Sky News, and the BBC. He is the author of the ebook “Deep Web for Journalists: Comms, Counter-surveillance, Search,” supported by the International Federal of Journalists.
Some comments from the UK
Poor sod….. he must have thought he was doing good for his country (which he was)
and this is the kicking he got
God forbid if you grow up free thinking and with respect for your “true” nation and realise what the government is up to
I just wish this was reported more and more people were outraged
Always hits the target . The images Steve Bell so often produces in one picture , captures the chaotic thoughts of many and remain a recurring image throughout the day and sometimes beyond . One cartoon = a thousand Editorials . Thanks Mr Bell…….few always hit the target every time….you do !
Revolution next year, Manning freed, Snowden brought home a hero, Chomsky as President… bankers tried and their assets seized, mass arrests of Congress and the Senate, the trial of Obama, revolution spreads across the Atlantic… one can dream. :]
Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Blair/Brown convicted of genocide charges,
NSA/CIA/FBI disbanded, and senior leaders imprisoned for life, IRS scrapped, religion outlawed, Supreme Court replaced with socialists, American workers party elected with huge majority in both Houses, income taxes on those earning over $300,000/year increased to 105%, US Military size cut by 80%, all Nuclear Weapons scrapped,
all nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines scuttled by their crews,
Size of US General staff cut by 90%, Communist Asian Woman President elected, Pentagon reconstructed as two dimensional building…..
oh the orgasmic pleasure of it all would be Heaven on Earth
The fallout from the recent disclosures of the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs continues to spread.
On Monday, the European Parliament Civil Liberties Commission voted overwhelmingly to investigate the privacy and civil rights implications of the NSA’s PRISM and other spy programs on European citizens, and demanded more information on the programs from U.S. authorities.
In a resolution, the Parliament called on member nations to also consider suspending any counter-terrorism related data transfer arrangements — such as airline passenger records — they might have with the U.S. until better protections become available for the data.
EPIC asks Supreme Court to stop NSA surveillance
Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Washington-based rights group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the legal basis that the NSA is using to collect the phone records of tens of millions of Americans.
EPIC’s petition asked the Supreme Court to immediately halt the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities saying the agency has no reasonable basis for conducting such surveillance.
The developments are the latest in a string of events that began when NSA contract worker Edward Snowden leaked documents describing secret U.S. surveillance programs to the media. The documents describe various NSA data collection around the world, and have caused widespread concern about dragnet NSA surveillance activities not just within the United States but outside the country as well.
The EU resolution, which was passed by a margin of 483 votes to 98 (with 65 abstentions), is one measure of the concern stoked by Snowden’s revelations. It strongly condemned the NSA’s alleged activities and urged U.S. authorities to provide the EU with full information on the secret surveillance disclosed by Snowden.
“Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee will conduct an ‘in-depth inquiry’ into the US surveillance programs, including the bugging of EU premises and other spying allegations, and present its results by the end of this year,” a statement from the Parliament noted. “It will assess the impact of the alleged surveillance activities on EU citizens’ right to privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, the presumption of innocence and the right to an effective remedy.”
The Snowden affair has strained Washington’s relationships with other countries as well. Over the weekend, Brazil for instance, expressed “deep concern” over a report in The Guardian newspaper about U.S. intelligence agencies tapping electronic and phone communications of Brazilian citizens.
In a press statement, the country’s Minister of External Relations, Antonio Patriota, said Brazil’s government has sought clarifications from Washington on the nature of the NSA surveillance activities in that country.
Several other Latin American countries have also expressed displeasure at Washington after a recent incident in which the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced into making an unscheduled stop in Austria on the suspicion that Snowden was on board.
U.S. relations with Russia and China too have taken a hit over the Snowden affair. The U.S. government has accused both countries of not doing enough to extradite Snowden when they have had the ability to do it. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has flatly said his country will not deport Snowden back to the United States.
Snowden is currently believed to be in the transit lounge at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where he is evading U.S. authorities. He flew into Moscow from Hong Kong more than two weeks ago.
In a desperate bid to evade the international reach of US authorities Snowden has applies for asylum to Wall Street. “Where else can I go?”, says Snowden. Pointing out that Wall Street ripped off 10 trillion dollars in 2008 and no one went to jail Snowden thinks this is the only place on Earth that is beyond the reach of the Justice Department. “If they can get away with that,” says Snowden, this must be the best place in the world to hide!”
via Dvorak News Blog.
Judge Colm Mac Eochaidh said he was “compelled” to reject the request, made by the US embassy in Dublin on Friday, because it did not state where Snowden’s alleged offences were committed.
“The question of where the offence took place is not a minor detail but is a matter which could have very serious consequences in any further stage that might be reached in an extradition process,” the judge wrote.
Snowden began his third week in limbo at a Moscow airport on Monday, hoping to reach an asylum deal so he can escape charges in the US for leaking explosive details about a massive electronic surveillance program.
Snowden, 30, has applied for asylum in 27 countries including Ireland, which said it could not consider the request unless it was made on Irish soil.
Irish justice minister Alan Shatter said US authorities were welcome to reapply for an arrest warrant stating where Snowden committed his alleged crimes.
“The determination of the court does not in any way prevent a fresh application being made for a provisional arrest warrant,” he said.
“The Irish and US authorities have remained in close contact about this matter and, for its part, the government will take any action open to it to ensure that the state’s obligations in relation to extradition arrangements are met.”
The High Court judgment said US authorities did not made clear in the request whether they believed Snowden leaked the information to journalists from US territory, or after he fled.
Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro said on Friday he had decided to offer asylum to former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has petitioned several countries to avoid capture by Washington.
“In the name of America’s dignity … I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden,” Maduro told a televised military parade marking Venezuela‘s independence day.
WikiLeaks said on Friday that Snowden had applied to six more nations for asylum, bringing to about 20 the number of countries he has asked for protection from US espionage charges.
Maduro said Venezuela was ready to offer him sanctuary, and that the details Snowden had revealed of a US spy program had exposed the nefarious schemes of the US “empire”.
“He has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the US spying on the whole world,” Maduro said.
“Who is the guilty one? A young man … who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate president Bashar al-Assad?”
“Who is the terrorist? Who is the global delinquent?”
Russia has shown signs of growing impatience over Snowden’s stay in Moscow. Its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that Snowden had not sought asylum in that country and needed to choose a place to go.
Moscow has made clear that the longer he stays, the greater the risk of the diplomatic standoff over his fate causing lasting damage to relations with Washington.
Earlier on Friday, Nicaragua said it had received an asylum request from Snowden and could accept the bid “if circumstances permit”, president Daniel Ortega said.
“We are an open country, respectful of the right of asylum, and it’s clear that if circumstances permit, we would gladly receive Snowden and give him asylum in Nicaragua,” Ortega said during a speech in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.
Ortega, an ally of Venezuelan president Maduro, did not elaborate on the conditions that would allow him to offer asylum to Snowden, who has been at the eye of a diplomatic storm since leaking high-level US intelligence data last month.
Options have been narrowing for Snowden as he seeks a country to shelter him from US espionage charges.
A one-time cold war adversary of the United States, Ortega belongs to a bloc of leftist leaders in Latin America that have frequently taken up antagonistic positions with Washington.
Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, has benefited greatly from financial support from Venezuela, and Ortega was a staunch ally of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez.
Latin American leaders slammed European governments for diverting Bolivian President Evo Morales‘ plane on rumours it was carrying a wanted former US spy agency contractor, and announced an emergency summit in a new diplomatic twist to the Edward Snowden saga.
Heads of state from countries including Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay were planning to gather in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba in a show of solidarity. The detour was a “humiliation” for the region, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said.
Morales, who was greeted by cheering supporters throwing flowers and waving flags when he arrived at the La Paz airport, blamed his delay on the US and its “servants” in Europe whom he said are trying to “intimidate the people and social groups”.
“This is an open provocation to the continent, not just the president,” Morales said.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said she was “surprised and amazed” that European governments obstructed Morales’ travel after they condemned the US over Snowden’s allegations that it was spying on allies.
Such behaviour puts at risk dialogue between South America and Europe, she said.
Failure to allow Morales’ plane to fly through airspace of the European countries threatened the security of the people on board, Russia said. The actions of authorities in France, Spain and Portugal was “hardly friendly,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.
The international wrangle linked to Snowden took a further twist yesterday when a British private surveillance company denied that it was behind the bugging of the embassy, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living for over a year.
WikiLeaks is trying to assist Snowden, who is believed to be stranded at an airport in Moscow and seeking asylum in a variety of countries including Ecuador.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino on Wednesday made the allegation against the Surveillance Group.
The Surveillance Group’s chief executive Timothy Young rejected Patino’s allegation as “completely untrue”.
“The Surveillance Group does not and has never been engaged in any activities of this nature,” Young said.
Patino described the Surveillance Group as “one of the biggest private investigation and undercover surveillance companies in the United Kingdom”.
On its website, the company says its clients include British law enforcement, other government bodies and financial institutions.
Surveillance experts have described the bugging device that Ecuador says was hidden behind a plug socket in its London embassy as rudimentary and unlikely to have been the work of the British police or security services.
Yesterday, France said it was rejecting a request for political asylum from Snowden, the Interior Ministry said in a statement in Paris.
The Irish Government has received a request from the US authorities to arrest fugitive US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. The provisional arrest warrant received by the Irish Government from the US authorities is now being handled by the extradition Unit in the Garda’s crime and security branch based in Garda headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin. The warrant has been issued as a pre-emptive strike against any effort by Mr Snowden to evade the US authorities by flying from Moscow to Havana on a commercial flight that stops off at Shannon for refuelling. The warrant would enable the Garda to arrest Mr Snowden under the Extradition Act 1965.
He could be brought before a District Court where a judge could detain him in custody for up to 18 days during which time the Americans could execute a full extradition process to bring him back to America to stand trial.
He is wanted for questioning in the US following his releasing information outlining how the US government was engaged in the wholesale interception of email and telephone messages.
He is believed to be in the transit lounge of Moscow airport.
While the receipt of the provisional arrest documentation by the Department of Justice yesterday appears based on the possibility he may try to travel to Havana on the regular Aeroflot flight via Shannon, security sources in Dublin believe this is unlikely.
“We would think he’ll stay in Russia for at least a while but the papers are with us now so the option of using Shannon to get to Cuba is probably out for him,” one source said.
Mr Snowden (30) has already made efforts to seek political asylum in a large number of countries including Ireland. He could not make such an application unless he was physically in Ireland.
However, if he travelled via Shannon as part of his efforts to get to Cuba and was arrested under the provisional arrest warrant pending an extradition process by the American authorities in the Irish courts, he could apply for asylum while being held in prison here.
The plane of Bolivian president Evo Morales was denied permission to fly over some European countries on Wednesday after leaving Moscow when it was suspected Mr Snowden could be on board.
He worked for the National Security Agency as a contractor in Hawaii, has been trying since June 23rd to find a country that will offer him refuge from prosecution in theUnited States on espionage charges.
Russian president Vladimir Putin is unwilling to sendMr Snowden to the United States, with which Russia has no extradition treaty.
“Putin said Monday that Snowden could stay in Russia on condition he stop leaking U.S. secrets. Putin’s spokesman later said Snowden had withdrawn his request for asylum after learning the terms”
MOSCOW — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow on an Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong on June 23, according to the airline, but he has been out of the public eye and his circumstances and plans are murky. Snowden is believed to have remained in the airport’s transit zone, caught in legal limbo after his U.S. passport was annulled by Washington. Here is a look at some of the mysteries surrounding the case of the world’s most famous fugitive.
WHY DID SNOWDEN LEAVE HONG KONG?
The Hong Kong government was believed to be trying to persuade Snowden to leave in order to remove a major irritant in relations with the United States. And Snowden apparently feared that the government could hold him in custody if he stayed and fought a U.S. extradition request.
Albert Ho, a local legislator, said he inquired on behalf of Snowden whether he could remain free pending the outcome or leave Hong Kong if he chose to do so. Ho said officials never got back to him with an answer, but an intermediary who claimed to represent the government sent a message to Snowden saying he was free to leave — and should do so.
President Vladimir Putin relishes defying the United States, accusing Washington of trying to dominate global affairs. When Snowden was still in hiding in Hong Kong, Putin’s spokesman said Russia would consider granting him asylum if he asked for it.
Snowden could have seen Russia as a safe haven that would not send him to the U.S. under any circumstances. Putin so far has met his expectations, bluntly rejecting Washington’s expulsion request.
WHERE IS SNOWDEN NOW?
Putin says Snowden remains in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and hasn’t crossed the Russian border, a statement repeated by other Russian officials. Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa told the AP that the country’s ambassador had seen Snowden once in Moscow. Hordes of journalists have besieged the airport, including a nearby hotel that has a wing for transit passengers, but none has seen Snowden or talked to him since his arrival and there have been no photographs of him.
Some security experts have speculated that Snowden could be in the hands of Russian intelligence agencies eager to learn the secrets he possesses. Putin has flatly denied that Russia’s special services have debriefed Snowden.
WHAT IS SNOWDEN’S RELATIONSHIP WITH WIKILEAKS?
Snowden didn’t turn to the secret-spilling website to warn the world of the NSA’s massive surveillance program, saying he wanted to deal with journalists whose judgment he trusted about what should be made public and what should be held back.
But it didn’t take long for WikiLeaks to adopt Snowden and his cause, jumping in to offer its assistance as a kind of renegade travel agency. WikiLeaks’ role as Snowden’s unofficial handler doesn’t sit well with some, including Snowden’s father, who has expressed frustration that the organization may not be giving his son the best advice.
WHO IS WITH HIM?
WikiLeaks says its legal adviser Sarah Harrison is with Snowden, “escorting him at all times.” Harrison has been equally elusive. WikiLeaks said that on Sunday she delivered Snowden’s request for asylum to 21 countries, including Russia, to the Russian consulate at the Moscow airport.
HOW DID HE GET STUCK?
WikiLeaks initially said Snowden was bound for Ecuador, where he has requested asylum. He booked an Aeroflot flight to Cuba — presumably as a transfer point — the day after his arrival in Moscow, but he didn’t show up and his seat remained empty. The U.S. annulment of Snowden’s passport, which has made it impossible for him to legally cross the Russian border or board a plane, could have been a reason behind the change in plans.
He also could have been concerned that the U.S. would force the plane to land while flying over U.S. airspace or felt uncertain about his final destination.
WHO MIGHT OFFER HIM SHELTER?
Putin said Monday that Snowden could stay in Russia on condition he stop leaking U.S. secrets. Putin’s spokesman later said Snowden had withdrawn his request for asylum after learning the terms.
Ecuador, which has sheltered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its embassy in London for more than a year, has given mixed signals about offering him shelter.
Bolivia, whose president attended a summit of gas exporters in Moscow this week, has been seen as a possible safe haven. The plane carrying President Evo Morales home from Moscow was rerouted and delayed in Austria. Bolivia says it is because of suspicions Snowden was on board, though Bolivian and Austrian officials both say Snowden was not on the plane.
Another potential option is Venezuela, whose president attended the same energy summit in Moscow and made a stopover in neighboring Belarus on Wednesday.
ARE THERE MORE LEAKS COMING?
It’s quite possible. Snowden said his work as an NSA systems analyst allowed him to take in a huge range of material, and U.S. officials have given conflicting assessments of how much information he may have had access to. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she had been told Snowden had perhaps more than 200 sensitive documents.
Assange has promised more leaks, saying measures have been taken to prevent anyone from blocking publication of more NSA documents in Snowden’s possession.
Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist whose work has been central to breaking the story, suggested media organizations involved already had all the material Snowden wanted to make public. Greenwald indicated it was up to the newspapers what to publish and when.
Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.
“The UK citizen Sarah Harrison passed on a request by Edward Snowden to be granted political asylum,” said Kim Shevchenko, of the airport’s consular department. He said he then called the foreign ministry, who sent a courier an hour later to pick up the request.
He declined to say where Ms Harrison or Mr Snowden, who have not been seen since landing in Sheremetyevo last week, were staying. “She didn’t say and I didn’t ask,” he said.
‘Our American partners’
In a move likely to enrage the US, Mr Putin said yesterday: “If he wants to go somewhere and someone will take him, go ahead. If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his work aimed at bringing harm to our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my mouth.”
Mr Snowden has been in the airport since June 23rd, after flying in from Hong Kong, from where he leaked secret documents detailing US National Security Agency surveillance programmes.
Stripped of his US passport, he has been stuck in limbo since.
His attempts to get political asylum in Ecuador, whose London embassy is sheltering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, appear to have dried up amid intense US lobbying and reported disagreements within the Ecuadorean government.
Snowden met Russian diplomats yesterday morning and handed them a list of 15 countries to which he would like to apply for political asylum, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing an unnamed source in the foreign ministry.
Mr Putin appeared to leave himself some latitude, noting Mr Snowden would be unlikely to meet his conditions for staying in Russia.
“Considering that he considers himself a human rights activist and a fighter for human rights, he probably doesn’t plan to stop this work, so he should choose a host country and head there,” Mr Putin said.
“When this will happen I, unfortunately, do not know.”
Speaking at a press conference after a meeting of gas exporting countries, he reiterated that Russia would not extradite Mr Snowden to the US.
“Russia never gives anyone up and doesn’t plan to give anyone up. And no one has ever given us anyone.”
‘Snowden is not our agent’
For the second time Mr Putin, unprompted, insisted Mr Snowden was not working with Russia’s secret services. “Mr Snowden is not our agent, never was and isn’t today. Our special services have never worked with him and are not working with him.”
Russia maintains one of the world’s most developed intelligence mechanisms and is widely believed to engage in snooping on its own citizens.
Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan president, is in Moscow for the two-day gas conference and it was believed he and Mr Putin would discuss Mr Snowden’s fate.
Mr Putin’s foreign policy advisor, Yury Ushakov, said the two had not discussed Mr Snowden yet.
A campaign calling for Mr Snowden to stay in Russia has gathered momentum since he first arrived in Moscow. Yesterday morning, several MPs and influential Russians floated the idea during a meeting of the Public Chamber, a body that advises the Kremlin.
“It’s not right that Snowden is sitting in this terminal like in a prison,” said Sergei Markov, a former MP with close ties to the Kremlin.
“Unlike prison, he can’t even go out and breathe fresh air. On humanitarian grounds, I think he should be presented with a way to enter Russian territory.”
– (Guardian service)