This brave fella, Edward Snowden, is a 30-year old young American citizen who is a computer boffin who worked as a technical sub-contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of America. These are very powerful spying institutions that are known for their destabilising roles in many African countries and the rest of the world.
Some time ago, I wrote a piece about how an Australian citizen, Julian Assange, was holed up in the Embassy of Ecuador in London because he is also running away from the jaws of US government for having leaked important information on WikiLeaks. The Swedish government is using the pretext of sexual harassment charges against Assange to get him to stand trial in that country, but they are refusing to give him the guarantee that they would not extradite him to the USA. Ecuador has offered him political asylum.
The revelations by the Guardian have embarrassed the UK and US governments. The mass surveillance programmes in these countries are a direct violation of peoples’ rights to privacy. Under the guise of counter-terrorism, these governments are reaching deep into the private homes and lives of its citizens, kammastig in search of terrorists. Thanks to free-spirited persons like Snowden and Assange, we can now see the real character of these governments.
Snowden is a clever chap. Having worked for the US Army and all the security agencies in the USA, including the US Embassy in Switzerland, Snowden knew that his life would be in danger if he revealed these top secret programmes while still in the USA, so he left the country and was in Hong Kong by the time the story broke in the Guardian. He is now in transit at the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, from where he hopes to fly out and find his way to Ecuador where he was offered political asylum like Assange.
The USA is embarrassing itself by publicly accusing Russia and China of hosting American spies and is asking these countries, especially Russia, to extradite Snowden to the USA. Yet Russia does not have any extradition agreement with the USA, and Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has confirmed that Russia will not extradite Snowden, not only because of the non-existence of the extradition treaty, but more importantly because Snowden has not committed any crime in Russia!
It is quite comical now for the USA to be literally begging countries like Russia, whom it has accused of intolerance and totalitarianism, to now hand over someone whose only crime is to release information that is vital to the freedom of the American and British people. The freedom-loving people of the world must jealously protect their well cherished freedoms of expression and association.
Why did Snowden go to Hong Kong? He is quoted to have explained as follows: “NSA employees must declare their foreign travel 30 days in advance and are monitored. There was a distinct possibility I would be interdicted en route, so I had to travel with no advance booking to a country with the cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained. Hong Kong provided that. Iceland could be pushed harder, quicker, before the public could have a chance to make their feelings known, and I would not put that past the current US administration.”
The timeline of the revelations initiated by Snowden is given by Wikipedia as follows (verbatim):
On June 5, The Guardian released a top secret order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that ordered a business division of Verizon Communications to provide “on an ongoing daily basis” metadata for all telephone calls “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls” and all calls made “between the United States and abroad.”
On June 6, The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed [the existence of [PRISM]], a clandestine electronic surveillance programme that allegedly allows the NSA to access e-mail, web searches, and other Internet traffic in real time.
On June 9, The Guardian revealed Boundless Informant, a system that “details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information [the NSA] collects from computer and telephone networks.”
On June 12, the South China Morning Post disclosed that the NSA has been hacking into computers in China and Hong Kong since 2009.
On June 17, The Guardian reported that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a British intelligence agency, had intercepted foreign politicians’ communications at the 2009 G-20 London Summit.
On June 20, The Guardian revealed two secret documents, signed by Attorney General Eric Holder, describing the rules by which the NSA determines whether targets of investigations are foreign or domestic.
On June 21, The Guardian made further disclosures about ‘Tempora,’ an 18-month-old British operation by GCHQ to intercept and store mass quantities of fiber-optic traffic.
On June 23, the South China Morning Post reported that Snowden had said the NSA had hacked Chinese mobile-phone companies to collect millions of text messages and had also hacked Tsinghua University in Beijing and the Asian fiber-optic network operator Pacnet. The newspaper said Snowden provided documents that listed details of specific episodes during a four-year period.
On June 25, Greenwald reported Snowden claims that he had sent files with NSA secrets to associates for his personal insurance, and that their contents would be revealed should something untoward happen to him.
As his surname implies, Snowden is now in a den of snow; we are in a new cold war in cyberspace, and we need free souls like him. Just like the biblical Daniel survived the den of lions, so also Snowden will survive the den of snow because truth and justice shall always prevail.