According to media reports, Russian administration is considering handing over Snowden to the United States as the positive response to pro-Russia gestures of Trump administration. The prospective move has initiated new debate in the media. Many journalists are calling it violation of global human rights recognized by Geneva Convention of human rights—America is regarded as the proponent of human rights in free world—while others call it policy decision based on “national interest”.
Russia has come under fire in recent years for human rights violations, and always upheld the Russian national and geopolitical interests over the sugarcoating of fundamental rights, international treaties, and democratic customs. As Russia is ruled by authoritative and dictatorial regime, there is little its people can do to fight their own rights violations. Russia is also known for using spies to sow dissenting voices and create Russian enemies abroad. The United States always declared Snowden as ‘spy’ and ‘national traitor’—even during the Obama era and demanded extradition—since the NSA leaks.
Edward Snowden, during an interview in December, said, “I don’t care whether I’m handed over to the United States or any other country because I’ve neither committed nor executed any crime—while denying the fact that he breached the national security of United States—against the American interest”. Barack Obama never publicly stressed deportation of Snowden—despite pressure from security agencies and right-wing politicians—but Trump always seems eager to take Snowden back at home.
Donald Trump also tweeted on 21 October 2013, “Message to Edward Snowden, you’re banned from @MissUniverse. Unless you want me to take you back home to face justice!”
Michael Morell (former CIA acting director and Clinton supporter and adamant anti-Trumper) wrote in his column in Cipher Brief, “President Putin will feel comfortable to hand over Snowden to the United States due to political, strategic and domestic reasons: Putin wants to contravene the political dissent at home by putting himself on equal level with Trump—while Putin has always averted the domestic political demonstrations by exaggerating his political cult in global politics—and also wants to build friendly relations with Donald Trump to abstain future sanctions on Crimea and Eastern Ukraine matter. Apart from these objectives, He also wants to aide Trump in dismantling the subsisting political legacy of Obama by awarding him generous opportunity to poke Obama”.
Later, Snowden attorney denied all the news by calling them fabricated and baseless and out rightly rejected any prospect of handing Snowden to Trump administration. But now, as per the reports of senior intelligence experts, American intelligence have intercepted high-level Russian intelligence conversations calculating the prospects of handing over Snowden to Trump after the inauguration ceremony of the Donald Trump.
Former deputy national security adviser Juan Zarate urged the Trump administration to not make any alacrity on Snowden matter because vast diplomatic implications and complicated bilateral relations espoused with love-hate history will make matter more complicated for the new administration. He further added Russia has already played the Snowden card in the best diplomatic manner by acquiring vital intelligence information from Snowden, exposing the lapses in American cyber security apparatus and hampering the American image—because America always advocated civil liberties, digital privacy, and protection of digital rights—on the global level.
White house refused to comment on the NBC news report, but Justice Department said, “Any such move will be welcomed by administration”, and on the other hand, Russian presidential spokesman called it nonsense and baseless speculations
While in separate interview, Snowden said, “Such move will prove my claim that I’ve not worked with Russian intelligence in past”.
According to political experts, Washington must proceed with the deal—but keeping in mind the American context of freedom of expression, individual liberties, and civil rights—of Snowden’s extradition to the United States. Such move can boost the Russian political and international stakes, but it will make impossible for any person to trust the Russia in future—as Russia is working extremely hard to intervene in the democratic elections in Europe by repeating the method already tested in American elections—to work for Russian interests.