Snowden a hero not a villain to many
Eight months after the first of Edward Snowden’s revelations, it is shocking to hear some people in the United States continuing to lambaste him for going to China and Russia.
They say this is because the two countries have questionable records of human rights and freedom of expression. They probably think that Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, should be stupid enough to go to Britain, where the US authorities could easily extradite him and throw him into prison, just like they did to whistleblower Chelsea Manning, a US soldier who leaked information to WikiLeaks and is now serving 35 years behind bars.
The other example is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Also a whistleblower, Assange has been forced to live in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012 because the British authorities want to arrest him on a sexual assault charge at the request of the Swedish authorities.
So a lot of countries simply won’t protect Snowden, no matter how much they claim to uphold freedom of speech and how perfect they say their human rights records are.
The truth is that few countries in the world today have the guts to stand up to the pressure and coercion from Washington, except China, Russia, Ecuador and a few others. In this sense, Snowden has chosen to go to the right place.
Not only do such accusations against Snowden not make any sense, their purpose is clearly to divert public attention from the increasingly astonishing revelations by Snowden.
For example, unlike what has been publicly claimed by the US authorities, Snowden told a German TV network three weeks ago that the US National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage, such as targeting the leading German engineering firm Siemens.
US President Barack Obama said in his Jan 17 speech on NSA reforms that the US intelligence agencies will continue to gather information about the intentions of governments — as opposed to ordinary citizens — around the world in the same way that the intelligence services of other nations do. “We will not apologize simply because our services may be more effective,” he stated.
Obama clearly believes that the US should continue its cyber imperialism by taking full advantage of its gigantic intelligence community, as well as the major US Internet companies, which over the years have either collaborated with or been abused by the NSA in its massive worldwide surveillance program.
While few US media organizations dare to call Snowden a hero, the 30-year-old is much less controversial in other parts of the world. Just late last month, two prominent Norwegian politicians nominated Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize to be announced later this year.
Although it is unlikely the Nobel Peace Prize Committee will dare to upset the US and grant Snowden the laureate, such a prize for Snowden will be less controversial than its 2009 winner, Obama, who is now trying to hunt Snowden down.
However, there is some hope that Snowden might actually be granted the prize as Snowden was declared Person of the Year by the British newspaper, The Guardian. He was also on the top of the 2013 list of Leading Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy.
In fact, Snowden won several awards last year, including receiving the “Whistleblower Prize” in Germany and the Sam Adams Award presented by a group of four American former intelligence officers and whistleblowers.
On Tuesday, Snowden was elected to serve as rector of the University of Glasgow, becoming the first US citizen to occupy that position in its 366-year history.
Compared to people in other parts of the world, many in the US think differently of Snowden. But it may not take too long before they realize what one Snowden poster says: Enemy of the State, Hero to the People. The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA. firstname.lastname@example.org