Saturday, October 25, 2014


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Remember, Edward Snowden, Not All Asylums Are Created Equal

Be careful what you ask for, Edward Snowden.
Be careful what you ask for, Edward Snowden.
By Glenn Kates and Deana Kjuka
According to WikiLeaks, U.S. leaker Edward Snowden has applied for asylum to a total of 21 countries. Ecuador and most of the others have signaled their unwillingness to host him. But Snowden is still waiting -- apparently at a transit terminal at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

In the meantime, here's a lighthearted look at what he might have to look forward to if any of those applications were approved.

AUSTRIA

Like Snowden, Austria's most famous living son, Arnold Schwarzenegger, recently found himself without a home after revealing a startling secret. In 2011, the former California governor admitted to his then-wife that he had fathered a child with a former housekeeper.


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BOLIVIA

Evo Morales, Bolivia's leftist president, is enthusiastic, at least publicly, about hosting Snowden. In a television interview with Russia's RT, Morales's response to whether Bolivia would provide Snowden with asylum was: "Why not?" Nonetheless, the country has yet to officially respond to Snowden's request.




BRAZIL

In previous Internet posts, Snowden, an anime fanatic, claimed to be conversant in Japanese. This could ease his adjustment to life in South America's most populous country -- one with the largest number of ethnic Japanese outside of Japan. He must also see some common ground with Hitmontop, a character from Pokemon, a popular Japanese anime and video-game series. The character is known for his mastery of the Brazilian martial art capoeira.


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CHINA

In a statement posted on WikiLeaks, Snowden railed against the Obama administration, which he said was afraid of an "informed, angry public." In China, where the Internet and other media are heavily censored, he's likely to find others who feel his pain. Perhaps he'll befriend dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who has compared the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs to Chinese tactics.




FINLAND

Despite the cold, Finland would provide quite the cozy environment for Snowden. Snowden, an IT enthusiast and gamer, would probably feel right at home in the birthplace of the popular "Angry Birds." Not to be outdone, Finland's press has been rated the freest in the world.


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FRANCE

While France may at first seem an unlikely destination, new revelations of NSA spying on the European Union prompted a sharp rebuke from French President Francois Hollande. "We cannot accept this kind of behavior between partners and allies," he said. If Snowden were to be permitted into France, Hollande might wish to re-gift a young camel recently awarded to him by Malian authorities.




GERMANY

Documents released by Snowden indicate that the NSA intercepts and stores data from as many as half a billion German phone calls, e-mails, and text messages each month. Even before that disclosure, a German lingerie company had already called for Snowden to be allowed into the country, saying there was still "a lot to uncover." That entreaty notwithstanding, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been put off before by her treatment at the hands of U.S. guests.




INDIA

If India had accepted Snowden's asylum request, Snowden might not have wanted to go too soon anyway -- it's currently monsoon season in India. And while the world's most-famous leaker has enhanced the profile of Glenn Greenwald, "The Guardian's" enterprising investigative journalist, he's probably powerless to help this local reporter, who was fired after a video emerged of him riding atop a flood victim's shoulders in an attempt to keep his feet dry.




ITALY

In asking Italy for asylum, Snowden may have taken comfort in the notion that Silvio Berlusconi is unlikely to return to power. The former prime minister, who was recently sentenced to seven years in jail for engaging in sex with an underage prostitute and other charges, did not look kindly on those who challenged state power. In a joint press conference with Vladimir Putin, Berlusconi mimicked the shooting of a gun after a reporter asked the Russian president a personal question.




IRELAND

Snowden was working in Hawaii as a contractor for the NSA before he made off with vast troves of data and absconded to Hong Kong. Viewed from a satellite, Ireland could perhaps be mistaken for one of the Hawaiian islands -- key differences being precipitation and temperature.




THE NETHERLANDS

In order to qualify for his top-secret security clearance in the United States, Snowden would have had to have passed a drug test. That should no longer be a concern for the stateless fugitive, so Holland's famously lax drug policies might be enough to lure the libertarian-leaning Snowden, who can spend his days biking and enjoying the many perks the country has to offer.




NICARAGUA

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega knows what it's like to be wanted by the United States. In the 1980s, when Ortega led a left-wing Sandinista military junta, the administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan approved funding for anti-Sandinista rebels. Back in power since 2006, Ortega may see asylum for Snowden as sweet revenge.




NORWAY

While the Vikings headed west and Snowden has escaped to the East, the differences end there. According to visitnorway.com, "Vikings have earned their place in history as a seafaring warrior culture with a fine eye for design and a good ear for stortytelling." And while the leaker has certainly demonstrated his ability to tell a compelling story, one can't help but wonder if part of his outrage at the NSA was directed at the rather amateurish PowerPoint designs for its secret programs.

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POLAND

Poland was quick to reject Snowden's asylum request, which the country's foreign minister dismissed as not "in the important interest of the Republic of Poland." As an agnostic, Snowden may not have fit in so well in one of Europe's most devoutly Catholic nations anyway. In his late teens Snowden reportedly rejected religion, saying, "I feel that religion, adopted purely, is ultimately representative of blindly making someone else's beliefs your own." Pope John Paul II, the second-longest-serving Roman Catholic pope in history, was originally from Poland.



RUSSIA

Snowden withdrew his asylum request to Russia after President Vladimir Putin warned him not to leak any more classified information about the United States. Also, had he stayed, this may have happened:




SPAIN

Sunny Spain does not welcome fugitives. One of Britain's most-wanted suspects was recently hunted down and arrested as he was lounging at the swimming pool in his luxurious villa in the Alicante resort of Calpe. It's a moot point anyway, since Spain has publicly rejected Snowden's application for asylum.




SWITZERLAND

Snowden was initially stationed in Geneva after the CIA hired him. However, he claims he became "disillusioned" and lost faith in government after seeing the CIA in action there. Nevertheless, that country's liberal gun laws might prove just attractive enough for him. In 2001, an 18-year-old Snowden boasted about owning a gun, saying he "loved it to death."

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VENEZUELA

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange once had his own show on RT and Snowden might well do the same if he goes to Venezuela. The country already has a precedent for ridiculous, unscripted talk shows. The late President Hugo Chavez was famous for his long rants on "Alo Presidente." If the America-bashing socialist firebrand were still alive he might even have convinced Snowden to join him onstage for a dance.


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CUBA

Will Fidel Castro live forever? Successive U.S. administrations have pondered this question as Cuba's former president -- who led the country from 1959 to 2008 -- remains a dominant symbol of the former Soviet satellite. As long as Castro remains alive, Snowden could be confident that he'd be protected from extradition to the United States -- less than 160 kilometers from the Cuban coast.

 
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ICELAND

Will Snowden come to regret rejecting an offer from Olafur Vignir Sigurvinsson, an Icelandic businessman who promised to fly him on a private plane out of China and to safety in his Nordic island country? Iceland, however, has not officially commented on Snowden's asylum request.

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