Edward Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia yesterday. If his application is approved, it will give him a year to figure out his travel plans to one of the Latin American countries that has offered him a permanent home.
Russia's welcome, President Putin has said, would be based on the condition that Snowden not harm relations between the countries, i.e., leak additional classified documents. Even so, the development is bound to have U.S. officials seething. Brushing off such concerns, Russia's President Vladimir Putin once again demonstrated his mastery of the casual knife twist. From the New York Times:
In reply to a question about the implications of Mr. Snowden’s case for relations with the United States, Mr. Putin effectively accused Washington of hypocrisy by providing robust support for human rights advocates in other circumstances but not in a case like Mr. Snowden’s, in which the United States was being criticized.
“Bilateral relations, in my opinion, are much more important than the squabbles around the activities of the security services,” Mr. Putin said while on a visit to the Trans-Baikal region in eastern Siberia to review a military training exercise, according to a Kremlin transcript.
Mr. Putin and other prominent Russian officials have made clear that they view Mr. Snowden as an advocate for human rights and a crusader for personal liberties for his leaks exposing the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.