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Washington in a panic as Snowden threatens to do a runner – but to where?


IMAGE: Putin and Kerry: ‘John, relax, have vodka. If we see him, I call you. Ed is nice young boy, we’ll take good care of him in Russia’.

21st Century Wire says…

The Ed Snowden Affair doesn’t disappoint when it comes to international intrigue.

In true cloak and dagger spirit, the 29 year old NSA whistleblower Snowden threw back a vodka and caught the red eye somewhere yesterday – perhaps to Moscow, in a move that could possibly ignite a diplomatic crisis between an already embarrassed White House and the Russians. 

Maybe Iceland, maybe the Wiki-phile nation of Ecuador, or maybe Fidel has a spare room in Cuba, or maybe even outer Mongolia – but few countries could provide the back-up necessary like Russia. With Snowden in hand, Moscow is championing civil liberties and anti-spying ethics, while the US currently searches for some type of moral ground on which it can stand.

Ecuador seems keen though, and sent a team to meet Snowden when he arrived in Russia. According to reports out of the Washington Post, Snowden left Hong Kong on Sunday:
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“Snowden fled Hong Kong for Moscow on Sunday with the assistance of the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and asked the government of Ecuador to grant him asylum.

Snowden’s ultimate destination was uncertain, but Ricardo Patiño, Ecuador’s foreign minister, tweeted Sunday afternoon that his government had received a request for asylum from Snowden. WikiLeaks released a statement saying Snowden was “bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum.”

Predictably, the US has demanded his return to face the Bradley Manning treatment in a 4 ft x 4 ft federal cell somewhere in the bowles of rural Pennsylvania, but Putin is not going to cave in just yet. In terms of chess, it appears Moscow has a valuable pawn with which to bargin with, and Obama is currently left with nothing but a soft egg on the face.

What will happen next in this modern day espionage reality show?
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Russia defiant as U.S. raises pressure over Snowden

Lidia Kelly, James Pomfret
Daily Star
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MOSCOW/HONG KONG: Russia defied White House pressure on Monday to expel former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden to the United States before he flees Moscow on the next stop of his globe-crossing escape from U.S. prosecution.

Snowden, whose exposure of secret U.S. government surveillance raised questions about intrusions into private lives, was allowed to leave Hong Kong on Sunday after Washington asked the Chinese territory to arrest him on espionage charges.

The 29-year-old flew to Moscow as a transit stop before heading elsewhere, several sources said. But reports he would fly to Cuba were put in doubt when witnesses could not see him on the plane, despite heightened security before take-off.

Ecuador, which has sheltered the founder of the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy organisation, Julian Assange, said it was considering Snowden’s request for asylum. There is no direct flight to Quito from Moscow.

“He didn’t take the flight (to Havana),” a source at Russia’s national airline Aeroflot told Reuters.

As speculation mounted about where he would go next – Ecuador, Venezuela or Havana at a later date to escape the crowd of journalists on board Monday’s flight – Washington was stung by Russian defiance.

Snowden’s flight to Russia, which like China challenges U.S. dominance of global diplomacy, is an embarrassment to President Barack Obama who has tried to “reset” ties with Moscow and build a partnership with Beijing.

The White House said it expected the Russian government to send Snowden back to the United States and lodged “strong objections” to Hong Kong and China for letting him go.

But the Russian government ignored the appeal and President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary denied any knowledge of Snowden’s movements…

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/International/2013/Jun-24/221400-us-should-not-expect-russia-to-expel-snowden-lawmaker.ashx#ixzz2X99MzTNq