What will happen to Snowden?

Apparently he is now at the Moscow airport and Putin has said that he won’t be extradited.

What’s his next step? Ecuador ? Iceland ? Some embassy in Moscow?

He possibly has valuable information that several governments would like. That gives him a certain amount of bargaining power. His international celebrity also protects him somewhat.

OTOH he is an even more sensitive and urgent case for the US government than Assange who wasn’t a US citizen and hadn’t worked for the NSA. They will be using all their considerable power to nab him. They want to set an example for the next person who might think of doing this.

I have no clue how this is going to end. If I had to guess, he may end up in some kind of limbo like Assange.

Since this is GD, feel free to debate what should happen to Snowden if you wish.

tbh, never mind the population of the US, he’s doing most countries a huge favour by informing them of what this rogue state is up to; didn’t you want to know you were subject to mass surveillance contrary to what the boss of the NSA said to elected leaders?

Ffs, who is paying and serving who here?

I think he will find a government which will give him legal protection, perhaps Ecuador.

But those of us who have read too many spy thrillers can easily see an “independent contractor” kidnapping and torturing him for whatever information he has and selling that information (and/or him) to a hostile government.

From the WaPo:

I find this hard to believe but there it is. Is the US government so seriously incompetent that they allow a junior contractor access to massive amounts of sensitive information? Why would they do that?

If it is true, it does raise the stakes considerably. I think the US may cut a deal with Russia though they will have to offer a lot in exchange.

What bargaining power? What’s to stop Russia from throwing him into a hole until they’ve finished copying all of the information he has, then booting him out of the country? (which is what China is rumored to have done)?

Since Russian-US relations have deteriorated to Cold War levels, Putin will no doubt provide Snowden with not only permanent refuge, but also a nice dacha with lotsa vodka and a cute blonde or two to replace his abandoned pole dancer girlfriend back in Hawaii. They won’t be able to give him white sand beaches and ocean breezes, unless he likes the 20-below kind. But you can’t have everything.

The Snowden brouhaha provides all enemies of the US a wonderful opportunity to rub its nose in the litterbox. Putin probably wet his pants in joy when he found out that Snowden was coming to Russia.

The legal aspect is that we will try to invoke our extradition treaty with Russia. They will come up with some reason that it doesn’t apply (such as Snowden’s own contention that he has broken no law). We will be very upset and turn purple. Putin will laugh. We will give up. (We might make a feeble attempt to whack him, but that might burn up some useful assets.)

For example, he could claim to have sensitive information that would damage Russia which would be revealed by WikiLeaks if anything happened to him.

We don’t have an extradition treaty with Russia at all so I very much doubt they’ll need to come up with a reason it doesn’t apply to Snowden.

I predict Snowden makes it to Ecuador most likely, or possibly reroutes to Iceland. My understanding is Assange has advised him to go to Ecuador because Iceland is “not as favorable” for people like them as it was in the past. I imagine Snowden would probably prefer Iceland, not for the climate or anything (Ecuador is nicer and having lived in Hawaii Iceland would be an adjustment), but Ecuador is a really poor country and even with money it’s unlikely he’ll have all the creature comforts of an OECD type country such as Iceland.

I also doubt he has anything all that amazing on the NSA. To be honest what he released was important because I think the public needed to know about it, we needed some sort of public debate on it because the system we have in place (the Congressional Intelligence Committees / FISA) that are supposed to be the check on clandestine executive action have frankly done nothing but rubber stamp and ignore everything the executive has wanted to do for decades. But if you actually had read some of the laws that authorized this stuff, not only was none of this unexpected it was basically something you should have realized was going on from the laws themselves.

Every country in the world does wire intelligence, including monitoring overseas net traffic. The NSA program in theory is no different from NSA surveillance programs they’ve ran for years. I fear too many people here are too emotionally invested to hear reason on it, but in all honesty it’s just business as usual at the NSA. The only hitch is domestic communications, which are supposed to only be collected “incidentally” and discarded unless they can be clearly linked to something are not properly scrutinized or controlled in terms of what the NSA is doing with them. That’s the one big concern I have with it all, but the fact that the NSA has a program to monitor large amounts of foreign internet traffic that passes through the major U.S. internet companies? The more I learned about it the more I became pretty happy the NSA was monitoring that stuff, I’d like to know what a signals intelligence organization with a massive operating budget was for if not for exactly that.

The US government has voided Snowden’s passport. Would any international airline allow him to board a plane ?

Yes. It has been said he’s been issued Ecuadorean travel documents.

OK but I would have thought you would also need a valid passport to board a plane.

No, not necessarily. Why would you think that?

My experience is that the the airline checks your passport and also your visa on an international flight. If your passport is void I don’t know if “travel documents” are enough.

To expand on my short comment, not everyone can even actually get a passport all that easily. For example I knew a lot of people in the Vietnamese community who were allowed to come over here in the late 70s/early 80s because of connections with the United States during the war that put them in danger if they had stayed in Vietnam.

They came to the United States and many became permanent residents, but not citizens. Permanent residents cannot be issued an American passport, if you’re a U.S. permanent resident you typically need the passport from your country of citizenship plus your green card to facilitate your easy reentry into the United States (and a special reentry form if you plan to travel away from the United States for over a year as a permanent resident.) This situation isn’t all the uncommon, while not typical it is not rare. There are many people who for a variety of reasons cannot get a passport from their country of citizenship, and are not citizens of their country of residence. Most of them are in special legal categories that exempts them from some travel requirements. (They have a travel form that verifies refugee status and etc, and it functions a lot like a passport.)

Generally speaking such “stateless” refugees have travel documents issued by the country that granted them asylum/refugee status that are sufficient to allow them to travel internationally, and they can do so typically at will.

Is this the proper venue to discuss whether what Mr. Snowden was, in fact, illegal?
If not, then please Moderator, move it with my apologies.

If his actions were illegal was it, in your considered opinions, ethical nonetheless?

Those of us who have a smattering of knowledge of computer systems, networks, databases and such details that make this magical screen carry my words to unknown people all around the planet were all pretty much certain that the NSA was monitoring ALL internet traffic for keywords years before the 9/11 event.

The shear volume of data has always been the chokepoint in effective surveillance. Discrimination of targets is the only way to handle the data, because even with billions of dollars of budget and thousands of sigint personnel, you can only scoop so much gold out of the gravel.

So, until recently, we had a modicum, a figleaf of privacy left, even if it was only statistical in nature.

As our newer generations of users have driven the system to interconnect ‘friends’ using social networking, the task has been made an order of magnitude easier. Now, we have people who indiscriminately broadcast their every action, whim, random notion or object of desire to everyone in their list of hundreds of ‘friends’. And none of it EVER disappears. This is a challenge for the maintenance of the ethical balance between freedom and security.

It is reassuring to see a public debate about these issues. They do affect us all, and if we choose to accept constant surveillance then we should expect a valid and trustworthy overseeing authority that handles disputes between the NSA and the citizenry. Of course, I also want a pony, but I just thought I’d put it out there.

Yes, to take an example from my own family history: My mother escaped from Hungary at the time of the failed revolution of 1956 and ended up in a refugee camp in Austria. From there she eventually emigrated to the U.S. For that travel she obviously didn’t have a passport from Hungary, or from any country. She had special refugee travel papers created by Austria, which were accepted by the American authorities.

OK I guess it makes sense that political refugees wouldn’t require passports to leave their country. But has Ecuador actually given him asylum/refugee status ?

My guess is that Snowden catches two in the head within 5 years.

I don’t see the point in this. The damage is already done, and that would just martyr him.

He will be turned in to US authorities and kept in a cramped cell until trial. A few people will support him but the vast majority of the people will regard him as a traitor or won’t care either way. He will be sentenced to death for treason.