Sunday, June 30, 2013

Snowden still stuck in Moscow Airport transit area

- Ecuador has asked Russia for talks concerning Edward Snowden according to a Russian state broadcaster. Snowden is seeking asylum in Ecuador to avoid trial in the US.
Snowden is believed to be in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow. This is confirmed by Russian president Vladimir Putin. As reported earlier in the Digital Journal, President Corea of Ecuador has revoked the travel papers that were issued by the Ecuadorean consul in London. This makes it difficult for Snowden to travel on to Ecuador since his US passport has already been revoked.
Ecuador has insisted that Snowden must be on Ecuadorean territory to be given refugee status. Perhaps the talks are aimed at allowing Snowden transit to the Ecuador embassy in Moscow. Alexei Pushkov, the Russian parliamentary foreign affairs committee chair, said on Twitter that the case was tragic."The idealist Snowden was apparently convinced that it would be like in a Hollywood movie: he would blow the whistle, and democracy would prevail. But life and the US are harder."Perhaps this is a sign that Snowden will be turned over to the US as part of improving relations but we will just have to wait and see.
Ecuador says a decision on asylum could take months. and has asked that the US argue its case for extradition. Translated this probably means that Ecuador wants to know what it can get in return for turning over Snowden. The US has alternated between the good cop, bad cop routine. On the one hand there are threats to end preferential access of Ecuadorean goods to the US and on the other hand Joe Biden is the good cop who was praised by President Corea. Corea noted the good manners of Biden in contrast to some "brats" in the US Congress: "He communicated a very courteous request from the United States that we reject the (asylum) request."
Correa said that he would respect US opinion in evaluating Biden's request but that Ecuador cannot even begin to process Snowden's application until he reaches Ecuadorean soil. By revoking Snowden's travel papers, Corea has made this difficult. Corea is a game theorist and economist and a politician to boot. This hardly makes him trustworthy.
So far, Putin has insisted that he will not extradite Snowden. In claiming that he is in the transit area, Putin can claim as well that he has not even entered Russia. However Russian law requires any travellers staying in the area for more than 24 hours to obtain a transit visa for up to three days. There is no confirmation that Snowden has such a visa or when it might expire. Several refugees have actually stayed in the airport for months. The longer the situation is unresolved the more Russian US ties are strained.

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