In early October, four Americans flew to Russia to present an award to Edward Snowden. They were all familiar with the workings of the national security state and took appropriate precautions.
We left Washington, DC, having a lawyer on retainer and no electronics—cell phones, laptops or any of today’s normal lifelines—knowing that the United States could geo-locate our whereabouts and find Snowden, and also knowing we could have our devices searched and confiscated upon our return.
One of them, Jesselyn Radack, wrote about the trip in The Nation. He’s doing well, it seems, all things considered.
Given the extraordinary circumstances and pressure he’s under, Snowden is doing remarkably well. He’s warm and engaged, greeting us with long embraces. His is well-grounded, centered, and has a quick sense of humor, darkly joking that if he were a spy, Russia treats its spies much better than leaving them trapped in the Sheremetyevo transit zone for over a month.
Is he controlled by the Russians, as the official US narrative has it? Radack and the others are quite sure he’s not.
He is fiercely independent and makes his own decisions, leaving him perplexed and understandably frustrated by the continuous insinuations that he is giving the Russians information. He ticks off abundant evidence to the contrary. First, he points out, he didn’t destroy his life to become a Russian asset. Second, he’s in Russia only because of the United States, which revoked his passport while he was en route to Latin America. Third, WikiLeaks journalist Sarah Harrison has been by his side the whole time, in part to bear witness to the fact that he is not engaged in spying activity. Fourth, it is obvious that he chose to give information about NSA’s secret dragnet surveillance to the US people, not foreign adversaries. Fifth, and perhaps most significantly considering the contrary narrative promulgated in the United States, he has not had access to the information he revealed since he left Hong Kong.
Given how clear, consistent and mature his words and actions have been since hitting the headlines back in June, I see no grounds to doubt him. Thankfully, I’m far from alone in this view.
We wanted him to know that, as opposed to the daily invective of the US government and a vocal few surveillance state apologists, 60 percent of the United States supports him.