Imagery Analysis: Edward Snowden Asylum Requests


NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s travel and asylum requests from May 20 up to July 23, 2013. Image from Spencer Adkins.

Edward Snowden has been on the run and in search of asylum since he decided to leak classified government documents on May 20, 2013. Snowden was an employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton contracting with the National Security Agency while living on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Following the leaks that revealed the NSA’s vast surveillance capabilities, Snowden boarded a plane to Hong Kong. After 34 days in Hong Kong, Snowden left to go to Moscow, Russia and is still there. While in Russia, Snowden has applied for asylum in 21 countries. Most of these countries swiftly rejected Snowden’s request. Countries that rejected Snowden’s asylum request are: Ecuador, Cuba, Iceland (Snowden’s most desired country in which to gain asylum), Austria, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Netherlands, Switzerland, Brazil, China, Germany, India,  Poland, France and Italy. Countries which have officially granted asylum to Snowden are: Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia. Bolivian President Nicolas Maduro said, “As head of state of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young Snowden … to protect this young man from persecution by the empire [the United States].” These sentiments are shared by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and Bolivian president Evo Morales.  Snowden initially applied for asylum to Russia then withdrew his submission due to Vladmir Putin’s stipulation that he would only gain asylum if he refrained from leaking more classified information that “aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners.” On July 12, Snowden resubmitted a request for asylum and has yet to receive a definitive answer. If Snowden meets the requirements given by President Putin, then there is a good chance he will gain asylum in Russia. President Obama and the U.S. Government have been keeping a very close eye on the asylum statuses of Snowden. President Obama, while at a news briefing in Senegal, said that Snowden was in possession of more classified documents and that the government did not know “what other documents he may try to dribble out there.” President Obama has called on nations such as Russia to deny Snowden asylum and has  allowed legal action to be taken against Snowden once he is back on U.S. soil. If Snowden has the caliber of classified documentation he claims to have, it could prove to be nothing short of a disaster for the United States, especially if that data falls into the wrong hands.



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