Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

What will happen if Russia grants political asylum to Snowden?

The situation with the former CIA officer Edward Snowden remains confusing. He has been staying in the transit area of ​​the Sheremetyevo airport for over a week, or at least it seems to be this way. In fact, Snowden has not been seen in Russia since his arrival. The only people who saw him were the passengers of his Aeroflot flight, and a lady at the reception at the transit zone, where Snowden stopped for a few minutes to look at the prices.

Of course, the situation is somewhat phantasmagoric. Usually there are dozens of people ready to immediately declare "I am a witness! And what happened?" for far less significant incidents. The SVO transit area is a blind spot in this sense. There are thousands of people, and no one has any information about the fugitive.

While the former CIA is getting used to the image of the invisible man, his fate continues to be discussed at various levels.  

Snowden's U.S. passport has been revoked, and hence he cannot leave the transit area of ​​the airport and may stay there indefinitely. The Russian authorities have nothing against the ex-CIA officer because he has not broken any Russian laws. Russia does not have an extradition agreement with the U.S., so there is no reason to extradite him. Washington, despite the warnings of the "consequences," has not yet found time to send a formal request.

Ecuador rejected the trade preferences granted by the United States after Washington openly stated that it could take away Latin American state benefits if this country gives asylum to Snowden. However, Ecuador did not provide the fugitive with documents and it is unknown when it will consider granting him asylum. Snowden ignored a similar proposal by Venezuela. The ex-CIA operative is not interested in Cuba that would definetely not extradite him.   

What about Russia? Could Russia grant asylum to Edward Snowden? On Monday, the Public Chamber of Russia discussed the situation with the American during its session.

"If Snowden acted in the public interest, protected it, then the society has the duty to defend him," said head of the Presidential Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov. "The practice of the European Council on Human Rights emphasizes this duty of the society and the state," the adviser said. "It is important to take into account the fact that Russia is a member of the Geneva Convention on Refugees and other European human rights instruments," ITAR-TASS quoted Fedotov. "It requires us not to extradite a refugee while in the process of the application for political asylum."

Diplomats from Venezuela and Ecuador were invited to the meeting, but both ignored the invite. It should be noted that Ecuador President, Rafael Correa Delgado, stated that Snowden's fate would be decided by the Russian authorities, because for consideration of a request for asylum he must be present on the territory of the country. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied that the fate of the ex-CIA employee is not on the Kremlin's agenda. 

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation Vladislav Grib believes that Russia may grant political asylum to Snowden, if he asks.

"It meets all the standards of the international law, and we have no agreement with the U.S. on mutual extradition. Russia will not break any rules; on the contrary, it will comply with the provisions of the Refugee Convention. From a legal point of view, we have the right to give him political asylum. We have legal, ethical and the moral right to do so," Vladislav Grib told Pravda.Ru.

The fact that Snowden must first request asylum was stressed by a chief researcher at the Institute for International Economic and Political Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Tsipko. If this happens, he said, there would be no consequences for Russia. "No worries, Americans do this. Who would recon with us if we fear the Americans? That would be the end of Russia," he told Pravda.Ru

However, the political scientist is skeptical that Snowden would seek asylum in Russia. "I have a feeling that he does not want to stay here, (otherwise) he would have already asked. As an American citizen, he does not want to look like a traitor; he wants to look like a fighter for the rights of an individual. We do not consider his psychology, I think," said Alexander Tsipko.

Oleg Artyukov


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