Boundless Informant: The Global Hunt for Edward Snowden

Published on Spiegel Online International, by SPIEGEL Staff, July 1, 2013 (Photo Gallery: a Whistleblower on the Run).
Linked with Glenn Greenwald Speaks Out, on Berhane Tewolde’s Development Blog, by WeAreTheMany, July 3, 2013. (See also Socialism 2013.org).

Whistleblower Edward Snowden remains on the run from US authorities, leaving behind a trail of revelations. Currently believed to be in Moscow’s international airport, he has become the victim of a global hunt with elements of a Cold War thriller … //

… Snowden has been traveling around the world carrying four laptops filled with secret documents since the end of May, when he flew from Hawaii to Hong Kong and eventually on to Moscow, leaving behind a trail of global revelations. He exposed the NSA’s Prism program, which uses data from Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Skype; he revealed the role played in surveillance by the British intelligence agency GCHQ, whose Tempora program extracts data from hundreds of fiber-optic cables; and now he has also revealed the NSA’s spying activities in Germany. New revelations seem to emerge by the day.

Since then Snowden has been engaged with US authorities in a global hunt with elements of a Cold War thriller — only this time with 21st-century technology. He’s also being pursued by hundreds of journalists, millions upon millions of viewers and presumably no small number of agents. This 30-year-old system administrator has already set off minor and major diplomatic tremors, because the revelations also show the extent to which allied countries spy on each other. The insights into its eavesdropping operations have embarrassed the United States in its relationship with China and Russia, as well as helping enemies and humiliating friends, who must now fear that their own spying activities will be scrutinized … //

… Catapulted Out of Anonymity: … //

… Avoiding Extradition:

Snowden’s hiding place was discovered a few hours later, but he had already disappeared and gone to the apartment of a Hong Kong acquaintance.

Meanwhile, he was in contact with journalists from the South China Morning Post. After a conversation with Snowden, they revealed that the NSA had also hacked into the servers of telephone companies in China and Hong Kong and had collected millions of text messages.

Snowden apparently hoped to avoid extradition by provoking Chinese rage against the Americans. And he needed to do something, because Washington had already started to apply pressure. Although it has no extradition treaty with China, Hong Kong is largely autonomous and signed its own extradition treaty with the United States in 1996. US politicians were already demanding that Snowden be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.”

“People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions,” Snowden told the South China Morning Post. But he also sensed that he wasn’t safe in Hong Kong. Where else could he go?

At that moment two men entered the equation who wanted some of the whistleblower’s fame to rub off on them: Rafael Correa and Julian Assange.

Ecuador soon announced that it was considering an asylum application by Snowden. It isn’t as if Ecuadorian President Correa is a fan of transparency. In fact, a new, restrictive media law has just been enacted in his country. But Correa suffers from the fact that Ecuador is too small a stage for his political ambitions.

On June 16, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange stood on the balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, together with Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño. He said nothing but waved to his supporters. In interviews, however, Assange called Snowden a hero and recommended that he seek asylum in Latin America.
Assange has been stuck in London for more than a year now. Police officers are waiting outside the embassy to arrest him and extradite him to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault. His room at the embassy isn’t much bigger than a jail cell. It contains a table, a few chairs, a bookshelf and a single bed. The room is so gloomy, Assange said, that he ordered a sun lamp to simulate natural sunlight. He also has a treadmill and receives occasional visits from a personal trainer. Otherwise, he spends his time watching old episodes of “The West Wing” and “Twilight Zone.”

Assange runs the now divided organization from his temporary home at the embassy. But he hasn’t had any scoops in a long time, now that the flow of leaks has dried up. The situation in London is slowly becoming hopeless, and escape seems impossible. Since Snowden exposed himself as a whistleblower, it has become clear to Assange that this is his chance to get back into the game, draw attention to his fate and put one over on America.

(full text).

Links: more articles on Spiegel Online International:

Cover Story: How the NSA Targets Germany and Europe, on Spiegel Online International, by Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid, Holger Stark and Jonathan Stock, July 01, 2013 (Photo Gallery: America’s Data Dragnet – and Quote Gallery: Europe Reacts to NSA Spying): Top secret documents detail the mass scope of efforts by the United States to spy on Germany and Europe. Each month, the NSA monitors a half a billion communications and EU buildings are bugged. The scandal poses a threat to trans-Atlantic relations …;

Friends or Foes? Berlin Must Protect Germans from US Spying, a Commentary by Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark, July 01, 2013: The German government has failed to protect the public from the NSA’s surveillance program and should be held accountable. On both a national and an EU level, there needs to be an independent investigation into the scandal …;

No Longer in the Cold War: Merkel Infuriated by US Spying, July 01, 2013: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has compared US spying to Cold War tactics and Brussels wants EU facilities checked for American eavesdropping equipment. Concern is growing the scandal could seriously damage trans-Atlantic relations …;

World from Berlin: Obama Owes His Allies an Explanation, by staff, July 1, 2013: The fallout has been immense over revelations that US intelligence agencies systematically spied on EU officials as part of their far-reaching surveillance programs. German commentators on Monday say that Washington must explain itself …

Diplomatic Fallout: Experts Warn of Trans-Atlantic Ice Age, by Gregor Peter Schmitz in Washington, July 1, 2013: Revelations that the US has spied extensively on the EU and European countries have infuriated leaders in Brussels and Berlin — and could endanger the trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement. Important American voices are demanding that Obama come clean …;

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