China, Russia accused of helping Snowden flee Hong Kong
Is Edwward Snowden a spy working for China? Or Russia? Or both?
Don't think so? Neither do I. But whether either of those two countries - or some other country - helped Snowden get out of Hong Kong and find his way to Russia and then Ecuador is open for debate.
And then you have to ask the question; what did Snowden give them in exchange for their help?
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden's flight from extradition is raising new concerns about possible assistance from foreign governments.
As Snowden hopscotched from Hong Kong to Moscow Sunday, apparently en route to Cuba and then Ecuador, U.S. officials pointed angry fingers at China and Russia.
The finger-pointing followed news that Snowden, 30, the man who leaked information earlier this month about NSA telephone and Internet surveillance programs, had left Hong Kong before U.S. officials could have him extradited on espionage charges.
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said China "clearly had a role in this." Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., accused Russia's Vladimir Putin of "aiding and abetting Snowden's escape."
And Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Cuban President Raul Castro or Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro could use Snowden "as a bargaining chip to get more concessions from the Obama administration."
"It is pretty clear that someone has helped him engineer his escape from Hong Kong," said Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution, a former CIA, Pentagon and National Security Council official. "The Snowden affair has gone from a question of being a leaker to a question of high politics among the world's major powers."
Snowden arrived in Moscow on Sunday, accompanied by an employee of WikiLeaks, which specializes in releasing classified government documents. At first, he was reportedly headed for Havana, then Caracas, Venezuela.
But the Ecuador Foreign Ministry and WikiLeaks said he will try to get to Ecuador instead. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up at Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape charges.
"This kid is a pawn in a global power play," said former congresswoman Jane Harman, head of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. "He's being used to embarrass us and to send messages to us."
I think Harmon is on to something. Snowden strikes me as someone profoundly naive about the world and idealistic to a fault. While such people sometimes make juicy targets for foreign governments to recruit, the Snowdens of the world who betray their country usually seek out other governments and offer their services, as many American communists did in the 30's and 40's. I don't think Russia or China would have been his first choices to share NSA data.
But there should still be concerns over what, if anything, Snowden might have given a foreign government in exchange for his freedom. If he feels the American government is his enemy, it stands to reason that he would help the enemy of his enemy.
But we have no evidence of that and none will probably be forthcoming.