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Whistleblowing project WikiLeaks has excoriated a new book by Guardian foreign correspondent Luke Harding, who claims former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is being kept hostage by the Russian security agency, the FSB.
A new "exclusive extract" from Harding's book "The Snowden Files,"published by the Guardian on Sunday, has sparked a furious reaction from supporters of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, including WikiLeaks and former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald.
Titled "Is Edward Snowden a prisoner in Russia?" the extract appeared to focus on Harding's favorite topic -- the activities of Russia's Federal Security Service, the FSB, which the author views as a simple rebranding of the notorious Soviet KGB agency. It is full of clichés of "the Kremlin's hand" and "FSB connections," and referring to East Berlin the author does not hesitate to brand it "Stasiland."
Readers may wonder where Snowden, who exposed the vast surveillance activities of the US security agency, the NSA, and has been stranded in Moscow ever since the US revoked his passport, fits into this picture. Harding claims: "The hacker turned whistleblower had got his asylum. But the longer he stayed out of public view, the more it appeared that he was, in some informal way, the FSB's prisoner."
According to Harding, from the very start of Snowden's stay in Russia the former CIA employee has been surrounded by "minders" from the FSB, with even his trusted lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, being an FSB-handpicked "person of the system."
Harding then attempts to find every possible hint of Snowden being under Russian pressure in those few statements and video recordings of the whistleblower released during his time in Sheremetyevo Airport and afterward. Allegations of Snowden being a Russian spy or his leaks archive having been possibly accessed by the Russian agents are also cited, although Harding himself clearly does not believe Snowden to be a "traitor."
The end of the extract outlines an imagined bleak future for Snowden, saying that: "He is a guest of the Russian Federation, whether he likes it or not. And, in some sense, its captive. No one quite knows how long his exile might last. Months? Years? Decades?"
However, Harding does not mention in the extract that Russia was the only country that did provide the whistleblower with a safe haven, despite the threat of a diplomatic row with the US. He also does not mention that it was Washington that left Snowden stranded in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport transit zone by canceling his US passport.
But crucially, it turns out that all of Harding's reasoning and allegations are based on media reports and Snowden's statements available on the internet. According to WikiLeaks, Harding never contacted Snowden. ______________