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What Ecuador Has to Lose

The Andean nation depends on the U.S. for trade deals that help employ over 400,000 people. Will Correa really risk pissing off the U.S. by offering Snowden asylum?

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is not exactly on the Elizabeth Arden circuit for the leisure, jet-setting crowd. But for the globally notorious on the lam, it is shaping up to be an attractive getaway.

Ricardo Patiño

Piero Cruciatti/Demotix/Corbis

Banter With the Beast

Wozniak: Snowden’s My Hero

The Apple co-founder tells Lloyd Grove why he supports the NSA leaker, how the agency hasn’t ‘done one thing valuable for us’ in regard to Prism—and why the Internet wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Computer whiz Steve Wozniak is more than a little distressed that the technology he helped develop nearly four decades ago is being used on a massive scale to invade people’s privacy.


Steve Wozniak (left) and Edward Snowden. (Getty)

Spy Kid

Snowden’s Cold War Thriller

International communism isn’t getting the band back together, writes Nick Gillespie, but old alliances are reasserting themselves as a counterweight to American power.

As Edward Snowden lams it, his story is morphing from a new-media surveillance scandal into something closer to a classic Cold War thriller. The Snowden saga started off redolent of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (computer hacking; manifesto-style sloganeering about justice, rights, and corrupt goverments; and a half-naked dancer girlfriend). But it’s now driving deep into Graham Greene territory as the world’s most famous high school dropout is reportedly seeking refuge in a left-leaning Caribbean banana republic run by a Hate America First autocrat. Call it Our Man in Quito: Cold War Redux.

Russia Surveillance Snowden

Journalists show passengers arriving from Hong Kong a tablet with a photo of Edward Snowden at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on June 23. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)


Livin’ the Sheremetyevo Airport Dream

If he’s really there, Edward Snowden might be having a blast. From fear-of-flying therapy to free Wi-Fi and fresh OJ, the airport’s not a bad place to hide out.

Call him a hero, call him a traitor—at the moment, NSA leaker Edward Snowden is nothing more than a bona fide globetrotter. And by globe we mean the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. While the White House desperately searches for a way to bring the fleeing leaker back to America, Snowden’s living it up in style. Below, some key details about his latest home away from home.

Sheremetyevo Airport

Passengers awaiting flights at Sheremetyevo airport, Oct. 3, 2006. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty)


Snowden’s Plan B

Snowden has shared encoded copies of all the documents he took so that they won’t disappear if he does, Glenn Greenwald tells Eli Lake.

As the U.S. government presses Moscow to extradite former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, America’s most wanted leaker has a plan B. The former NSA systems administrator has already given encoded files containing an archive of the secrets he lifted from his old employer to several people. If anything happens to Snowden, the files will be unlocked.

Reporters Treason

Glenn Greenwald, who first reported former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of government surveillance programs, speaks to reporters in June at his hotel in Hong Kong. (Vincent Yu/AP)

Misguided Flight

Come Home, Snowden

The NSA leaker’s Cold War itinerary seriously undercuts his moral standing. If he wants a place in history alongside the great human-rights advocates, he needs to face the music in the U.S., says Jelani Cobb.

Even before his plane touched down at Sheremetyevo airport amid speculation that his next stop was Havana, Edward Snowden had taken on a new identity. In the days since his leaks about NSA intelligence gathering, the prevailing notion of Snowden had gone from civil-libertarian hero to egotist gadfly before settling, for the better part of a week, into an accepted media denominator: enigma. His flight to Moscow offered Snowden one more role in the rapidly expanding cast of characters: Cold War reenactor.

APTOPIX Hong Kong NSA Surveillance

A supporter holds a picture of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret information about U.S. surveillance programs, outside the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, June 13, 2013. (Kin Cheung/AP)

Diplomatic Pressure

U.S. Threatens Russia: Give Up Snowden

Top U.S. officials are furiously pressing their Russian counterparts to hand over the whistleblowing fugitive, reports Josh Rogin.

Behind the scenes, a flurry of top U.S. officials, acting on the belief that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is still in Russia, have been pressuring the Kremlin to hand over the fugitive, and threatening Russia with retaliation if that demand is not met that could include refusing to honor criminal extradition requests from Moscow.

Russia Surveillance Snowden

Journalists show passengers arriving from Hong Kong a tablet with a photo of Edward Snowden, at Sheremetyevo airport, just outside Moscow, June 23, 2013. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)


Snowden Makes His Move

If Snowden does apply for asylum in Ecuador, it would lead to legal questions with little precedent should the U.S. apply to have him returned. Eli Lake and Ben Jacobs report.

With former NSA contractor Edward Snowden now in Moscow, lawyers for the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks say he will now seek political asylum in Ecuador on the grounds that his whistleblowing disclosed criminality by the U.S. government, which would protect him from extradition.


Two cars of the Ecuadorian Embassy are parked at Moscow Sheremetevo airport, reportedly awaiting Snowden's arrival on June 23, 2013. (Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty)

Transient Leaker

Why Strongmen Love Snowden

The notorious leaker slams America for its lack of transparency and sham democracy—then takes shelter with our undemocratic enemies. Michael Moynihan on the leaker’s fatal flaw.

As NSA leaker Edward Snowden hopped from authoritarian China to authoritarian Russia, to catch a connecting flight to dictatorial Cuba with a final stop in either Ecuador or Venezuela (two countries with dubious commitments to democratic norms), those of us left scratching our heads—and wondering if Daniel Ellsberg had transformed into Philip Agee—were offered a piece of advice: we needn’t talk about Edward.

BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith isn’t a member of Snowden’s amen chorus, but he echoed a common sentiment among journalists, arguing that the transient leaker is “what used to be known as a source. And reporters don’t, and shouldn’t, spend too much time thinking about the moral status of their sources.” When I discussed the Snowden case on NPR last week with Jesselyn Radack, the national-security and human-rights director at the Government Accountability Project, she too stressed that the troubling NSA surveillance program—not Snowden—should be the media’s focus.


WikiLeaks Has Some Chutzpah

So now the group has self-professed ‘diplomats’? If WikiLeaks wants to be treated like a nation-state, let’s treat it like the national-security threat it is, writes Stuart Stevens.

Early Sunday, WikiLeaks issued a statement, later updated, on its relationship with escaped fugitive Edward Snowden. (And now that he has been formally charged with espionage, “escaped fugitive” seems the most obvious description of Snowden.)  It read:

Snowden WikiLeaks

A picture of Edward Snowden on a Chinese news website, in Beijing, June 13, 2013. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

He's Changed

How the President Made Friends With Big Brother

The Evolution of Barack Obama

The Evolution of Barack Obama

The president has evolved from ardent civil libertarian to surveillance hardliner. With liberals outraged by the Verizon court order, Daniel Klaidman and Eli Lake chart the change.

'Nobody Is Listening to Your Telephone Calls'

After a brief speech on Obamacare Friday, the president was asked about the NSA secretly obtaining Americans' personal information (spying?). Didn't catch his lengthy, wide-ranging response? Here are the important bits, boiled down to a very manageable 129 seconds.

Your Guide

NSA Surveillance Explained

Behind the NSA Spying Program

Behind the NSA Spying Program

Caitlin Dickson on how far it’s gone, who’s involved—and how Obama just defended it at a press conference.

Reader Poll

Do You Care That the NSA Is Spying on You?


Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

We Hear You

Verizon: Happy to Help!


What Spies Read For Fun