Snowden Sparks Off Diplomatic Tiff Involving US, China, RussiaFeatured, Finance Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013
Over the penultimate weekend of June, a manhunt turned awry for the United States, after Edward Snowden managed to jump ship into Russian territory despite an earlier move by Washington to deny him US visa to travel from Hong Kong, a state that would have been conciliatory to the US demand to extradite the whistleblower.
As late as Monday of the week, the US was still pursuing the idea of clutching Snowden who is under the charge of espionage after laying bare top-secret intelligence information on how the government was spying on non-US citizens through their Internet accounts and phone networks. Foreign Secretary, John Kerry warned Russia of a diplomatic spat if it did not hand over the suspect.
There was an ironic edge to Kerry’s message on the former Soviet republic, describing the pursuit of the whistleblower as necessary for the man has a trio of espionage accusations to face in the US. While describing him as a ‘fugitive’ , MR. Kerry said that countries that are supporting Snowden have a dearth of web freedom.
The relationship between the two biggest interdependent economies, that of US and China is also on the balance, after China yesterday published a sour editorial on its international newspaper, in retaliation to Washington’s reproach on Beijing allowing the whistleblower to fly off the Hong Kong territory.
This sharp exchange takes place just a number of days since the leaders of the two countries met in California to discuss trade and other ties between them, even as China faced accusations that it was hacking US servers.
Snowden Not Onboard
As observers trace the souring relations between the three powers, news has come in that Edward Snowden has not yet made it to Ecuador, apparently the same country offering refuge to besieged Wikileaks founder, Julianne Assange. Early Tuesday, an airliner on which Snowden was supposed to be on board landed on Cuba but the hordes of newsmen who entered the plane found his seat vacant.
Meanwhile, Wikileaks claims to have offered legal financial support for the fugitive while forwarding him as a traveler who is bound for freedom under the UN protocols on persons having similar diplomatic challenges.
Only a few days after the publication of the leaks on the London’s Guardian and the Washington Post, on June 23 the US authorities canceled Mr. Snowden’s passport which apparently was the same time that he boarded a plane out of Hong Kong.
The US authorities, including the State and Foreign Departments, alongside the White House, are all following the matter closely, and they all have a personal vendetta against Hong Kong for letting the fugitive flee, which the latter country claims to have been a ‘technical’ decision.
As a final reprimand, critics are now blaming Washington for not having canceled the travel papers in advance, but the Secretary of State was quick to respond with the affirmation that no one could have known whether Snowden was using other papers.