We are watching in real time a chess game between Snowden and his supporters and the US government that is bordering on the absurd. The latest is the news that the 12-hour Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Havana that Snowden was supposed to be on left without him but with a large number of journalists who had hoped to travel with him, as the Guardian‘s live blogging reports.
So was it an elaborate feint or was there a last-minute change in plans? Or was it a ruse to get the journalists out of Moscow? Did Snowden actually even travel to Moscow from Hong Kong or was that also a feint? After all, no one has actually seen him there. The only on-the-record source of information seems to be Ecuador’s Foreign Minister who said that Snowden was in Moscow and had applied for asylum in his country and read a statement that was purportedly from Snowden.
While the US government sputters about expecting other governments to “follow the rule of law” (translation: “Do exactly what we tell you to do”) what is becoming clear is the fact that many countries seem to have little inclination to acquiesce to its demands. The fact that the US has revoked Snowden’s passport seems to have had little impact on his movements. I think the world sees quite clearly that Snowden is not some ordinary criminal but a person of conscience being persecuted by his government and that brings with it a certain level of respect for him and a willingness to overlook normal diplomatic protocols.
The Guardian‘s coverage is ahead of all the rest and in sampling the large number of comments on this story I was struck by the fact that the vast number of them are cheering Snowden on. There is an almost palpable sense of satisfaction at the inability of the US to get its hands on Snowden.
It must be galling to the Obama administration and its lackeys in Congress that so many people see Snowden as being the morally superior person and themselves as international pariahs.