Saturday, June 29, 2013


AP reporter Ian Phillips traveled from London to Ukraine with a 21-hour layover in Moscow and no visa to enter Russia, just to see if he could find Edward Snowden. He didn't:
After a nearly two-hour wait inside the terminal, a bus picks me up -- only me -- from the transit area. We drive slowly across the tarmac, through a barrier, past electronic gates covered in barbed wire and security cameras.

The main part of the Novotel is out of bounds. My allotted wing feels like a lockup: You are obliged to stay in your room, except for brief walks along the corridor. Three cameras track your movements along the hallway and beam the images back to a multiscreen monitor. It's comforting to see a sign instructing me that, in case of an emergency, the locks on heavily fortified doors leading to the elevators will open.

When I try to leave my room, the guard outside springs to his feet. I ask him why room service isn't responding and if there's any other way to get food. He growls: "Extension 70!" I rile him by asking about the Wi-Fi, which isn't working: "Extension 75!" he snarls....

Now it's midnight, and I'm getting edgy. I feel trapped inside my airless room, whose double windows are tightly sealed....

("Can't I just wait in the lobby after midday?" I asked the receptionist at check-in. "Of course not," she retorted. "You have no visa. You will stay until you are picked up.")...
If this is really the only option for anyone who lands at the Moscow airport and has no Russian visa, then Snowden is in the same grim limbo (which is also an expensive one -- a mozzarella-and-pesto appetizer from room service costs about twenty bucks, a ribeye about fifty). Phillips couldn't locate Snowden:
I've called all the 37 rooms on my floor in hopes of reaching Snowden. No reply except for when I get my security guard.

The floor above? A similarly futile attempt.

I only reach a handful of tired and irritated Russians who growl "Da? Da? Da?"
Is he even there? Is it possible he's been spirited out of the country -- or into the country?

We know from The New York Times that the Russian government is cheering him on:
While Edward J. Snowden has remained mysteriously hidden from sight during his visit to Russia this week, Russian television has been making him a hero.

On programs that were hastily arranged and broadcast on the two largest federal channels, he was compared to the dissident Andrei Sakharov, to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and to Max Otto von Stirlitz, a dashing fictional double agent from Soviet television. He was described as "the man who declared war on Big Brother and got stuck in the transit zone," and as "a soldier in the information war, who fights, of course, on the side of Russia, or maybe the side of China."

... Since Mr. Snowden landed in Moscow on Sunday, the likelihood that he will remain in Russia has steadily crept up....
I think he's out of the airport, but is somewhere in Russia or elsewhere in the former Soviet bloc. (He'd be blabbing to the press if he were anywhere he felt free.) It's ironic if he refused to return to the U.S. because he didn't want to face Bradley Manning's fate and is now effectively a prisoner somewhere in Putin's sphere of interest.


Phil Perspective said...

Have you read Marcy's(aka Emptywheel) thoughts about this? That the Russians would probably trade Snowden for Viktor Bout?

Victor said...

Putin is about as shrewd a MFer as anyone we've faced since Brezhnev and his boys.

I'm sure he's milking the kid until there's no more juice to be had, and then... Who the f*ck knows?

And Putin won't care. He'll have gotten what he wanted, at small expense to him, or to Russia.

Who cares if their caviar, French champagne, and Slavic hookers, are used over there for profit, or over here?

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Ian Phillips' overembellished account straight out of a '50s comic book has SUPER COOL STORY BRO scrawled all over it, but if these are in fact the sort of conditions Little Eddie "America? LOL" Snowden finds himself, that's fine; it is solely of his own doing.

Perhaps Snowden's father would like to tone done the "conditions" under which his child might deign to return to this horrible, horrible land...assuming Eddie isn't already redecorating the landscape directly behind a woodchipper.

Say, I bet that master journalismist (and the pseudoprogressives' version of Linda Tripp) Glenn Greenwald could track him down! Maybe we should buy him a plane ticket! Up and at 'em, Glenn! The clicks, Glenn! Imagine the clicks!

Examinator said...

Victor is probably the closer to the truth.

My view of the journalist(?) is that his trip to Russia Shows nothing and proves less. Except how keen he is to get a sensationalised story, no matter how puerilely unobjective.

What the hell did he expect? I'm sure if the situation was reversed the same would apply.

As for the Russians having a hero double agent. Strewth, how many movies out of Hollywood depict Russians other than whores, Mafia, spies and trouble makers? Goose and Gander comes to mind.
Get real folks.

Tom239 said...

"He'd be blabbing to the press if he were anywhere he felt free."

Greenwald says that a lot of media outlets asked for interviews before Snowden left Hong Kong and Snowden turned them all down.