Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower, who has been stranded in a Russian airport since June 23 has been granted temporary asylum by Russia, and as The Washington Post points out, further strains the battered relationship between Russia and the United States.
On August 1, Snowden received a Russian refugee certificate granting him permission to stay in the country for one year. The asylum announcement followed a series of public appeals by U.S. officials to have Snowden returned to the U.S. to face espionage charges according to The Post.
International relations between Russia and the U.S. were not the only ones strained during the situation. Early in July, Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was stranded in Vienna following an official trip to Russia. France, Spain, Portugal and Italy denied the indigenous president’s plane to their airspace following rumors that Snowden may be on board.
Two days later, on July 4, Morales said he would consider closing the United States Embassy based in the Andean city of La Paz. At the time Morales said, “We don’t need the United States embassy,”
Russia was not the first to offer Snowden asylum, but because he was stranded in one of the country’s airports it was the most important to receive. Bolivia granted the former technical contractor asylum on July 8 following a protest of thousands of people in front of the U.S. Embassy. Venezuela and Nicaragua also granted asylum, with Snowden accepting Venezuela’s offer at a meeting on July 12th.
The U.S. did not comment on the issues surrounding Bolivia, but following the Russian granting of asylum “Obama administration officials denounced the decision to protect Snowden and hinted at repercussions,” The Post stated. The repercussions could come as early as the summit meeting that has already been planned between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. As for the Bolivia fiasco, France, Italy, and Portugal apologized for the grounding of Morales’ plane, which the Bolivian president accepted.
Following the announcement wikileaks.org released a statement that included comments from Snowden and others.
“Over the past eight weeks we have seen the Obama administration show no respect for international or domestic law, but in the end the law is winning. I thank the Russian Federation for granting me asylum in accordance with its laws and international obligations," Snowden said in the statement.
The statement goes on to state, “President Barack Obama while elected on a platform promising to protect whistleblowers, has now prosecuted more national security whistleblowers than all other presidents in United States history combined.”