Spy mar­riage jokes abound af­ter Snow­den’s pro­posal

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

MOSCOW: Rus­sian ex- spy Anna Chap­man has pro­posed mar­riage to US in­tel­li­gence leaker Ed­ward Snow­den, who is stuck with­out doc­u­ments in a Moscow air­port, in an in­creas­ingly bizarre turn of events that un­leashed ex­cite­ment in Rus­sia.

“Snow­den, will you marry me?!” the un­der­cover spy­turned-me­dia celebrity asked the world’s most fa­mous refugee on Twit­ter late on Wed­nes­day.

In a sep­a­rate tongue- incheek Tweet, she asked Snow­den’s for­mer em­ployer, the National Se­cu­rity Agency: “(at)nsa will you look af­ter our chil­dren?”

Snow­den ar­rived in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23 and has spent nearly two weeks in le­gal limbo in an air­port tran­sit zone.

Chap­man was de­ported from the US in 2010 along with nine other Rus­sian spies in a ma­jor ex­change with Wash­ing­ton.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said yes­ter­day that he was un­aware whether Chap­man’s pro­posal was se­ri­ous, and de­clined to comment fur­ther, not­ing he was not Chap­man’s “le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive”.

Chap­man’s Tweet un­leashed a del­uge of witty on­line re­marks, with one com­men­ta­tor quip­ping that the prospec­tive cou­ple’s chil­dren would all be “James Bonds and Mata Haris”.

An on­line cartoon de­picted an auburn-haired woman and a be­spec­ta­cled man be­ing mar­ried in a civil cer­e­mony, with the of­fi­ciant le­gal­is­ing the union say­ing: “And only fail­ure or ex­po­sure will bring you apart.”

On a more se­ri­ous note, a lawyer took to the air­waves to dis­cuss the pos­si­ble union, while the In­ter­fax news agency, cit­ing a source fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion, said yes­ter­day Snow­den’s le­gal sta­tus would change if he tied the knot with the Rus­sian.

“In this case, Snow­den would have le­gal grounds to re­quest Rus­sian cit­i­zen­ship and there­fore re­ceive state pro­tec­tion from his new coun­try of res­i­dence,” the source was quoted as say­ing.

But the con­sular ser­vice at Shereme­tyevo Air­port, where Snow­den has been ma­rooned, said it did not le­galise mar­riages.

How­ever com­i­cal, Chap­man’s pro­posal brings into fo­cus the in­creas­ingly ab­surd diplo­matic quag­mire pre­sented by Snow­den’s air­port stay.

The 30-year-old, who is seek­ing to evade US jus­tice for leak­ing de­tails about a vast US elec- tronic sur­veil­lance pro­gram, has been un­able to leave Moscow af­ter Wash­ing­ton re­voked his pass­port. – Sa­paAFP

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

PRO SNOW­DEN: A demon­stra­tor holds a sign with a pho­to­graph of Ed­ward Snow­den and the word ‘’HERO’ dur­ing Fourth of July In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions in Bos­ton.

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