We all know Russia has offered Snowden asylum, and we all know that the US government is pretty pissed about it.
The media has definitely left their pro-government flag flying high through the Snowden affairs. They certainly aren’t discussing the fact that Russia is following the law by granting Snowden asylum (and America is asking them to break the law and return Snowden – sort of ironic since he is wanted for…breaking the law).
But no one is talking about that. Shhh, don’t mention that the United States is asking for special treatment – instead make sure to demonize Russia with the same vigor the media has demonized Snowden. A Democratic senator, Charles Schumer, takes the lead on this front. One would think that Russia has been our greatest ally since Nam, listening to the supposedly liberal Schumer tell it. In response to Russia offering Snowden asylum, he boldly claims:
“Russia has stabbed us in the back…Each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another turn of the knife.”
Maybe Schumer didn’t get the memo that Russia is acting in typical and ethical fashion; although it is more likely that he disregarded that truth the same way the media has. In an AP article titled “Snowden’s Asylum: It’s the Law, Stupid” Richard Falk notes:
“[America is] completely ignoring the degree to which Russia’s grant of temporary refugee status to Snowden for one year was in full accord with the normal level of protection to be given to anyone accused of nonviolent political crimes in a foreign country… In effect, for Russia to have turned Snowden over to the United States under these conditions would have been morally and politically scandalous considering the nature of his alleged crimes.”
Espionage, the main charge against Snowden, is the most common ‘political offense’ in international law and often excluded from extraditable offenses. There is no extradition treaty in place between the Russia and United States, but even if there was, Russia is under no obligation to return Snowden. With the circumstances surrounding Snowden’s case, it would have been shocking and outrageous to the international community if they had given in to the demands of the “land of the free”.
But the US government still feels justified making statements that they are “extremely disappointed” in Russia’s decision; still whine in petulance when their political position falls short of getting them what they want. Perhaps The United States should come out with a guide to which laws we should follow, and which ones are acceptable to ignore completely.
President Obama is scheduled to have a summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin next week, and there are many urging the president to cancel to make a point. According to Senator Schumer:
“President Putin’s behaving like a schoolyard bully, and in my experience, I’ve learned, unless you stand up to that bully, they ask for more and more and more.”
Who is really acting like a bully in this situation? I agree that Obama should cancel the summit; I just also think he should apologize and then leave Snowden – and Russia – alone.