One Month Later, Edward Snowden Is Finally Leaving the Airport. Now What?

Sheremetyevo International Airport was Snowden's makeshift home since he arrived in Russia. Sheremetyevo International Airport was Snowden's makeshift home since he arrived in Russia. Flickr user ncabral

On June 23, Edward Snowden arrived at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, then presumably en route to Ecuador. But instead, he wound up with an incredibly harsh layover. Now, just a bit over a month later, and one week after he formally applied for asylum in Russia, Snowden reportedly has been granted papers to leave the airport and enter Russia proper.

From there, nothing gets any easier. For anyone.

This is certainly true for Edward Snowden. Russia does not currently seem like his final destination. So far, there are at least three countries that have offered to give him asylum: Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. How Snowden gets to any of those countries, though, is a major question mark. That's especially true after what happened to Bolivian President Evo Morales' recent flight from Moscow, which was stopped and searched in Austria. And Snowden would face a serious problem avoiding American airspace if he decided to make his way to Latin America. Snowden's support in the U.S. is also markedly down, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. In June, a 48 percent plurality of Americans opposed charging Snowden. In the latest poll, 53 percent are in favor of criminal charges.

That's not to mention the complicated perception that Snowden immediately gives off by accepting asylum from a country with a very dubious history on human rights and press freedom.

For Russia's Vladimir Putin, life gets a bit more complicated. Putin may enjoy being a pain to the United States, but seriously damaging Russia's relations with the U.S. isn't in his interest. And he knows that. Earlier this month, Putin said that Snowden would be allowed to stay in Russia only if he stops "his work aimed at damaging our U.S. partners, no matter how strange this sounds coming from me." Since then, Putin has repeatedly said that he will not let Snowden harm Russia's relations with the U.S., and he clearly would like to see Snowden permanently wind up elsewhere. How all of that meshes with Snowden now being free to enter Russia remains to be seen.

Of course, then there's the United States. President Obama has tried to play down Snowden's importance, but there's no question that the U.S. would really like to see him in custody. Washington will have to walk a careful line with how to handle Moscow from here. Apparently, American officials are has already been considering canceling a summit between Obama and Putin this fall, and the Snowden dispute wouldn't be the only reason. As the Obama administration prepares to take a stronger stance on Syria, Putin has continued to be one of Bashar al-Assad's most powerful backers. On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Assad would never rule all of Syria again. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., has already suggested that the U.S. boycott the 2014 Olympics in Russia. The U.S. needs to find a way to come to some agreement with Russia.

The last thing Russia-U.S. relations need right now is another complicating factor. Edward Snowden entering Russia is absolutely that.

But, hey, at least Snowden will be able to finally get out of the airport. Mohammed Al Bahish, who has been stuck in Kazakhstan's Almaty International airport for more than 120 days gets to keep his terrible record.

(Image via Flickr user ncabral)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.