The adventures of Edward Snowden, the Dudebro Defector, seem to be winding down and not in a good way. If you blinked, you may have missed the fact that the nature of the relationship with his Russian handlers has taken a very dark turn as of this week. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly explains:
MARK GALEOTTI: The point at which he put his first foot on Russian soil - at that point, he was bought and paid for.
KELLY: That's Mark Galeotti, an authority on Russia spy agencies, also a professor at NYU. He believes Snowden has almost certainly shared what he knows - secrets about NSA operations - with his Russian hosts. I put this question to Frants Klintsevich. He's the equivalent of a senator here in Russia and deputy chairman of the powerful defense and security committee.
FRANTS KLINTSEVICH: (Speaking Russian).
KELLY: "Let's be frank," he says. "Snowden did share intelligence. This is what security services do," adds Klintsevich. "If there's a possibility to get information, they will get it." It's a possibility that Snowden's lawyer, Ben Wizner of the ACLU, denies.
BEN WIZNER: Of course, it's impossible to prove a negative. But as he has made clear, he didn't even bring sensitive information with him to Russia, precisely because he didn't want to be in a position where he could be coerced. He was approached. He made very clear that he had no intention of cooperating, and he has not.
KELLY: In the U.S., intelligence officials insist Snowden's disclosures did grave damage to national security. Whatever he may or may not have shared with the Russian government, Snowden still faces charges of violating the Espionage Act - crimes that could land him many years in prison. When I reached him in New York, I asked Wizner about the other big question looming over Snowden's stay here - how long it might last. Wizner conceded his client is not a man with a lot of options.
WIZNER: The first is to be where he is in Russia. And the second is to be in a maximum security prison cell, cut off from the world. Of course we're working on option three.
KELLY: Which Wizner defines as either somehow returning to the U.S., quote, "in dignity" or winning guarantee of safe passage to some other country. Snowden himself declined our request for an interview, but he's active on Twitter, with more than 2 million followers. Snowden follows only one account - the National Security Agency. Mary Louise Kelly, NPR News, Moscow.
Now, we have a highly ranked Russian lawmaker openly admitting that Snowden turned over US state secrets to the Russians, and that this admission happened just days after Snowden publicly criticized the Russians for passing a new mass surveillance measure.
Edward J. Snowden, an American who took refuge inRussia after leaking a trove of classified United States data from global surveillance, has criticized a proposed Russian law as an assault on freedom of speech, and has been rebuffed in an effort to collect a free-speech prize in Norway.
Mr. Snowden, who was charged by the United States in 2013 withviolating the Espionage Act, was invited to Norway by a writers’ advocacy group to receive the prize, and sought guarantees in court that he would not be handed over to the American authorities. News agencies reported on Monday that a court in Oslo rejected his bid.
His criticism of the Russian law came over the weekend, when he said on Twitter that it was “an unworkable, unjustifiable violation of rights that should never be signed.” The law was passed by the lower house of Parliament on Friday; the speaker of the upper house, Valentina I. Matviyenko, signaled on Monday that her chamber would pass it as well.
And so Putin and the Russians almost immediately outed him as a traitor as a result. If you somehow thought this clown was going to come home and get a pardon before, that just ended thanks to the Russians admitting Snowden gave them intelligence.
Of course, anyone with a modicum of common sense knew very well that Snowden turned over intel and betrayed the US. And it looks like that ticket bought him three years as a guest at most.
What happens to Snowden now? Well gosh, the life expectancy of an openly burnt spy isn't that long, now is it?
And I will repeat this again for the folks in the cheap seats: now matter how you feel about Snowden "starting a national conversation" about US surveillance (and he certainly did), the fact remains that the man is a traitor who broke the law, period. Both of these points can be and are very much true.