Following his request for asylum in Russia, it’s become pretty clear that Edward Snowden is officially the most naive person in the room.
Not only is he surrounded by members of Russia’s Foreign Security Service (FSB) — the successor to the KGB — but he’s loudly trumpeting the moral superiority of the Putin government, one of the most repressive, cutthroat regimes in modern history.
David Francis’ Fiscal Times write-up digs into Snowden for his “mind boggling naiveté”:
He is asking for asylum in a country that continues to openly squash dissent, often using violent tactics. Putin runs the country with an iron fist, has jailed people who oppose him, and has chased others out of the country. Opponents have been known to meet early deaths, often under suspicious circumstances.
Francis notes the untimely, often gruesome deaths of several political opponents to Putin over the years.
Snowden’s statements about Russia’s sterling Human Rights image comes within days of the imprisonment of high-profile political opposition leader Alexei Navalny, on what some call trumped-up embezzlement charges.
To make matters worse, the person seemingly speaking for Snowden now — Russian attorney Anatoly Kucherena — also happens to be the head of public relations for the FSB.
Freeland reporter and intelligence expert Joshua Foust writes: “The involvement of known FSB operatives at his asylum acceptance … suggests this was a textbook intelligence operation, and not a brave plea for asylum from political persecution.”
“The Russians are very good at what they do,” wrote Foust, referring to their simultaneous control of the “principal” — Snowden — and the public message.
Putin — himself a former high-ranking KGB agent — drew laughs from Finland students when he said regarding Snowden, “If you want to stay, please, but you have to stop your political activities. We have a certain relationship with the U.S., and we don’t want you with your political activities damaging our relationship with the U.S.”
Then he just as deftly shifted the blame to the U.S., a foreseeable consequence of the State Department’s decision to revoke Snowden’s passport.
It seems in all of this, Snowden is not the super-intelligent super spy he makes himself out to be but just an analyst who is in over his head.
Looking at his statement that he could be, “petting a phoenix, in a palace” in China indicates that he expected to be greeted as a hero, rather than, more rationally, a possible intelligence asset to America’s rivals.
Treatment of the two, needless to say, is drastically different.
To further flesh out his naivete, it’s also mind-bogglingly naive that Snowden would out himself in Hong Kong — what Foust calls one of the “most heavily surveilled areas on the panet.”
Maybe it’s news to Snowden that there are direct flights from Hawaii to Mexico City, which offers flights to Venezuela — where all he would need is a mesely tourist card, issued on site, to stay for up to 90 days.
Instead, he’s rotting away in a Moscow airport at the whim of Vladimir Putin.
It’s also hard to believe that renowned investigative and human rights reporters Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald would not advise Snowden that outing himself that deep in rival territory might be the dumbest thing he could do.
Now that he’s identified himself and gotten stuck in an airport hotel, it seems, his primary option is to stay in Moscow, which is a far cry from beaches in Venezuela.
In fact, most … let’s say defectors … that fled to Russia found miserable ends.
“Like Oswald and most of the Americans who defected to Russia during the Cold War, Snowden made the cataclysmic blunder of believing there was something good or moral about the Russian state, that there were people in power in Moscow who would see fit to let him be,” The New Republic‘s Peter Savodnik pointed out recently.
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