AFP Photo/Philippe Lopez
Judging by the one-fruity-flavor variety of US media chewing points, Russia has been typecast -- no plot spoiler here -- as the villainous antagonist in this tantalizing tale of non-fiction that pits a lonely whistleblower from the National Security Agency (NSA) against the very government -- and even girlfriend -- he betrayed.
And as if to purposely taunt his imperial pursuer, Snowden has chosen the longest, most arduous route on the road to Ecuador. Indeed, the 29-year-old -- who dropped the bombshell that the NSA was storing the details of hundreds of millions of telephone calls every day, as well as the communications of individuals overseas -- did not board a boat to Havana or even Caracas after blowing the whistle on his employer, and this does not seem to have been an oversight on the part of his tour operator.
The American high school dropout does not seem to have cashed out of the game just to retire to some Caribbean banana republic, and that's not because Guantanamo Bay detention facility is still spoiling the scenery. Snowden was looking for maximum exposure, cause celebre, as it were. And like Julian Assange of WikiLeaks notoriety, he is certainly getting it.
Protesters shout slogans in support of former US spy Edward Snowden as march to the US consulate in Hong Kong on June 13, 2013. (AFP Photo/Philippe Lopez)
First stop: Hong Kong. Aside from the low possibility that Beijing would hand over Snowden to a tight-lipped US tribunal, the choice was embarrassing for Washington for one obvious reason: As early as May, the US authorities were pointing the imperial finger at Beijing for targeting cyber-attacks on US government computers.
"In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the US government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military," the report read.
Not surprisingly, the Chinese authorities denied the accusation.
Now when we consider the uncanny Chinese knack for copying everything under the sun -- from computers to sneakers to satellites -- well, that just makes Snowden's choice of the quasi-commie, quasi-capitalist regime all the more sensational. What kind of a gnarly tree will grow out of the kernel of information that the Chinese may have skimmed from Snowden's laptop is anybody's guess.
Next stop: Moscow. Since Sunday, Edward Snowden has been spending what must be some very uncomfortable nights in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport. Whether the American is permitted to shop around Duty Free between arriving flights is anybody's guess, but clearly, the life of a whistleblower on the lam is no piece of cake.
People spend time in a waiting room at the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport June 26, 2013. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)
US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed indignation that neither China nor Russia seems overly inclined to return missing American property.
"It would be deeply troubling, obviously, if they had adequate notice, and notwithstanding that, they make the decision willfully to ignore that and not live by the standards of the law," Kerry said
Russian officials claim they lack the legal authority to detain Snowden -- whose passport has been canceled by US authorities -- no less to hand him over.
"The Americans can't demand anything," human-rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin told Interfax, saying that as long as Snowden did not leave the Moscow airport's transit zone, he was not officially on Russian soil and could not be seized.
Meanwhile, US media continues to bemoan Washington's inability to sway Moscow and Beijing to behave in accordance with its "will."
"For the moment, Moscow appears to be holding firm against Washington's demands," lamented The Washington Post. "Within the United States, that's prompted some alarm over not just Russia's refusal -- which is not shocking -- but America's apparent inability to force its will on the issue."
After all, the United States has become used to the ability to resolve its issues with foreign countries not with the diplomatic pen, but increasingly with the militaristic sword.
"From Washington's point of view, Snowden is an American fugitive wanted on serious charges, hanging out at the Moscow airport, and we can't even compel his release," t he article continued. "Whatever happened to American power abroad?"