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Friday, 14 June 2013

Join the dots - Snowden has defected to China

NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden was quoted last week as saying "I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things"

Yet in a supreme act of irony he may end up living his life in the privacy equivalent of the fires of hell, having leapt there from the NSA's frying pan to expose that the USA does "these sort of things", things that one expects of China or Russia.

First Russia seemed to come out with an offer of asylum.  Then Putin went on telly and seemed to praise the NSA for doing what he would expect then to do to fight terrorism.

But what grounds are there to suspect Snowden has already struck a deal with Beijing?

First there is the lack of arrest warrant and no start of formal extradition proceedings.  This strikes me as strange - surely the USA would want to do what it can, in addition to the persistent threat of a CIA rendition squad on Snowden's tail, to prevent him leaving Hong Kong for another territory.

If the US already knows - or at least suspects - Snowden now has the formal protection of China it wouldn't want to suffer the embarrassment of fighting an extradition demand doomed to fail.

Secondly there's Snowden's interview with the South China Morning Post, in which he alleges US cyber attacks against Hong Kong and China.  

This seems out of character from a man who seemed primarily focussed with the privacy of Americans.

Remember this is a guy who signed-up, at first directly and then later indirectly, to work for military arms of government.  Now he's all squeamish about the odd electronic bombardment..

He must also surely see these kind of revelations might affect his home support; currently one in three Americans see Snowden as a patriot, not a traitor whilst less than a quarter take the counter view.  

So why give that interview?  Or was that part of the deal to keep the extradition warrant at bay.

And thirdly there's the bizarre revelation that Edward Snowden is officially banned from entring UK.  

What purpose could such a ban serve?  Surely as an ally of the US the UK would welcome the leaker with open arms, before promptly attaching a GPS ankle bracelet and assigning a crack team of G4S security guards to enforce strict bail conditions pending extradition to his homeland.

It's possible the UK just didn't want another Assange holed up on its territory fighting a lengthy case against extradition, but it's equally likely he's been classified as a foreign intelligence threat.

If Snowden has won the protection of China he may end up regretting his words:  I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things.

@JamesFirth

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