Nearly a month after Edward Snowden exposed top secret U.S. surveillance programs, the former spy agency contractor looks no closer to winning asylum to evade prosecution at home – and his options appear to be narrowing.
Stuck in legal limbo in a Moscow airport transit area and facing uncertainty over whether any of the destinations he is said to be contemplating – Ecuador, Venezuela and Cuba – will let him in, Snowden seems to be at the mercy of geopolitical forces beyond his control.
Unseen in public since arriving in Moscow last weekend, much remains unclear about Snowden’s overtures to various countries and how they have responded behind the scenes.
Russia may no longer have sufficient reason to continue harboring Snowden if, as is widely believed, its intelligence services have already questioned him about the classified documents that he has admitted to taking from the National Security Agency.
The leftist government of Ecuador, already sheltering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its London embassy, is reviewing Snowden’s asylum request, though officials have sent mixed signals, suggesting the process could drag on for weeks.
Venezuela’s new president, Nicolas Maduro, has spoken favorably of granting refuge to Snowden but has taken no action, and he may think twice about risking a setback in tentative steps toward post-Chavez rapprochement with Washington.