Snow­den a hero not a vil­lain to many

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

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. chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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