Almost no one knows exactly where NSA leaker/whistleblower Edward Snowden is.
On Monday WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told reporters that he knew where 30-year-old ex-Booz Allen employee was, adding: “He is in a safe place. His spirits are high.”
Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov denied the Kremlin was harboring Snowden, saying that he “has not crossed the Russian border.”
Snowden reportedly received refugee papers from Ecuador “to secure him safe passage as he fled Hong Kong over the weekend,” but Assange said that he didn’t know whether Snowden could travel beyond Moscow using the Ecuadorean document.
Interfax, citing a “well-informed source,” is reporting that Snowden may be detained by Russian authorities to establish the circumstances of his arrival in Russia, noting that the U.S. reportedly voided his passport.
The White House think he’s in Russia, which makes sense — Snowden is potentially a huge post-Cold War prize for Vladimir Putin and a tremendous headache for Barack Obama.
“Not exclusively because of the Cold War, but in part also because of national psyche and culture, these two sides are like Ninja masters who have taken up a new profession,” Matthew Rojansky, the deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, told the Times. “It’s like Mr. Miyagi at the cash register, and when a fly comes by they reach up and grab it.”
U.S. officials say they don’t know how many documents the former CIA technician took — Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald said Snowden gave him “thousands” — and how willing he is to share NSA secrets.
Rojansky told the Times that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the post-Soviet successor of the K.G.B., would naturally want to talk to Snowden.
“The guy is supposedly carrying four laptops, plus a bunch of thumb drives, supposedly knows all sorts of other things,” Matthew Rojansky, the deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, told the Times. “You don’t pass up an opportunity like that. You don’t just let him pass through the business lounge, on the way to Cuba.”
WikiLeaks paid for Snowden’s travel out of Hong Kong and sent Sarah Harrison, Assange’s closest advisor, to accompany him. Last year Ecuador granted political asylum to Assange, who is holed up in the country’s London embassy.
Besides China and Russia, Snowden’s options for travel include Ecuador, Cuba, and Venezuela since they pride themselves on their “anti-imperialist” credentials.
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