Edward Snowden, Reluctant Refugee, Pens an Open Letter

Edward Snowden, the source of the “leaks” which exposed the American government’s surveillance against its own people, is still stuck in Russia.

Like Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s 2004 comedy-drama “The Terminal,” Snowden is apparently living in the airport terminal in Moscow.  He is unable to fly to another country because the American government has pressed leaders of other nations into denying him entry, and has revoked his passport.

There are those who have gone along with the government’s assertion that Snowden is a “criminal,” a dangerous scofflaw and a traitor to our nation.  I am not among them.  I admire Snowden for fingering a government which embarked on a sinister and unconstitutional campaign of spying on its own people.  It’s ironic that the country which has protected him against American agencies is none other than our former nemesis, Russia, which was suspected of similar domestic espionage during the Cold War.

But why have so many in the media been willing to label Snowden the antagonist in this unfolding drama?

Representative Rebecca Hamilton, a 17-year member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and a fellow blogger here at Patheos, hit the nail on the head today in her excellent post titled “The Orwellian Press and Our Right to Know.”  Rebecca writes:

 “…the press that toadies to the interests that own these Congresspeople, in other words, the press that serves the same master as our “duly elected officials,” had to swing into damage control. 

They aren’t going to do anything about the most massive violation of civil liberties in the history of the Republic. 

The press won’t even go there. 

Their plan is to kill the messenger. 

It turns out that the person who told the American people what I think anyone with half a brain would agree we have a right to know is a man named Edward Snowden. He’s the leaker who “violated” the agreement he made as a condition of his employment to not talk about the things he saw on his job. 

I ask you: Which has pre-eminence; the “agreement” Mr. Snowden signed, or the oath every single one of these elected officials took to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution?”

Rebecca’s disdain for a puppet press is evident, as she explains:

The press on the “other” side of the divide has long accused the politicians they try to bring down (you know, the ones in the opposite political party) of violating “civil rights.” How to defend their guy in the White House and all his minions?

The answer my friends is obvious. Demonize the man who decided that the American people’s right to know these things trumped his employment agreement. 

This is not, as the press and government claim, about “national security.” 

Mr Snowden did not sell information to our “enemies.” He gave it to the American people. 

And we have a right to know. 

There’s more.  Go on over and read the rest of Rebecca’s insightful analysis.  Think about it until your spirit cringes at the audacity of this Administration, the insolence of our government’s intrusion into the private conversations of law-abiding private citizens.


Today, as Edward Snowden’s stay in the transport area of the airport stretches into the second week, the whistleblower has penned an open letter which was released today via Wikileaks.  In the letter, he explains his plight as a so-called “terrorist” sought by the American government.

He writes:

One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.

This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.

For decades the United States of America has been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.

Edward Joseph Snowden


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  • Patti Maguire Armstrong

    I have been wondering where the outrage has been over our administration spying on its own people. Nice to get this viewpoint and very well -written article.