Putin: Snowden is in Russia, and America can't have him

Even though Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Edward Snowden isn't in Russia, Putin says he is: "Putin announced that Snowden is in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, and he said that Russia would not hand him over to the United States, with whom it does not have an extradition agreement."

56 Responses to “Putin: Snowden is in Russia, and America can't have him”

  1. dsmoen says:

    Technically, if he’s in a transit area, he hasn’t formally entered the country. Which, having been there recently, I could so see with Russia. Shades of Nasseri and The Terminal.

  2. I know this is serious business, but I can’t get over the vaguely comical image of Snowden just hanging out at a Russian airport Cinnabon or something. 

    • Cory Doctorow says:

       Russian airports are pretty grim, fwiw.

      • Church says:

        Hanging out at Mr. Borscht is even funnier.

      • twianto says:

        They think he might be in Sheremetyevo’s terminal D, apparently Aeroflot’s long-distance international terminal. When I was at that terminal for a layover (twice!) I experienced it as ultra-modern (all glass), spacious, quiet and clean. It also featured at least one nice-looking cafe.

        Sheremetyevo’s short-haul terminal, where Aerflot’s inter-European flights land an depart on the other hand… *shudder*

      • TheRealChupacabra says:

        yeah, there are no steam-punk ukuleles there

      • TheRealChupacabra says:

        Yeah, Cory, there are no steam-punk ukuleles there

      • Peacen1k says:

         You’re way behind the times.

        JFK, now that’s grim. In the same way that a Greyhound station is grim.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          The last time that I was at Logan (which was 13 years ago), it looked like a set from a Mad Max film.

        • L_Mariachi says:

          Depends on the terminal. The JetBlue one is nice enough, and the Virgin America one was operational but still under construction a few months ago — could have used some better food options but it was hardly grim.

          And if they ever get the TWA terminal going again, that’s the very opposite of grim.

          However, having to pay extra for the Airtrain is bullshit, considering it’s the only feasible way to get to the subway. SFO Airtrain is free.

  3. theophrastvs says:

    There’s an excellent Snowden-related quote from Lavrov (which i can’t nail down), in which he points out the irony of a world power caught spying on its citizens losing track of one man.

    • Cowicide says:

      the irony of a world power caught spying on its citizens losing track of one man.

      …and not to mention the Boston bombers.

      Seems they spend more time using their spying powers to pluck our private business secrets and harass peaceful protest organizations than actually become effective. Can’t risk all that money…



      Daily Caller: So what are they doing with all of this information? If they can’t stop the Boston marathon bombing, what are they doing with it?

      Binney: Well again, they’re putting an extra burden on all of their analysts. It’s not something that’s going to help them; it’s something that’s burdensome. There are ways to do the analysis properly, but they don’t really want the solution because if they got it, they wouldn’t be able to keep demanding the money to solve it. I call it their business statement, “Keep the problems going so the money keeps flowing.” It’s all about contracts and money.

      • bombblastlightningwaltz says:

        “Keep the problems going so the money keeps flowing.” It’s all about contracts and money.”

        Sounds about right for the weasels.

  4. kingluma says:

    is the “transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport” not technically considered to be in Russia (similar to the grounds of an embassy etc.) ? 

    what is the name of the JG Ballard short story about people lost and wandering through a GIANT airport, coming across signs of human habitation but then realizing they are just going in circles coming across their own tracks from days before, etc.

    • sep332 says:

      He hasn’t gone through customs etc. and “crossed the border” in a legal sense. It’s an odd legal limbo. For example, if you’re traveling into the USA, they can search you at the airport with no warrant. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception

      • Roger Strong says:

        As Maher Arar found out on a layover at Kennedy International Airport, they can also hold you without charges in solitary confinement for two weeks, question you, and deny you access to a lawyer.  Then they can violate international law by shipping you to another country and having you tortured for 11 months, just to check out a vague suspicion.

        • YY says:

           Rendition of a Canadian citizens to Syria (Assad’s Syria), who were friends in the war on terra. There is consistency in lack of integrity.

      • ChicagoD says:

        Which is why it’s funny that the Russians bother saying they can’t arrest him. First, of course they can. He’s right there. Second, if he were a member of say, a female punk band, I bet they’d figure out a way to assert jurisdiction.

        Unless Snowden has a plan to get somewhere else under diplomatic cover it’s hard to believe that this is going to end very well. Affirmatively helping him would put U.S./Russian relations back to almost a Cold War footing. The U.S. and Russia have a million common security concerns (see, e.g. Central Asia) and a few issues they disagree about. The Russians are only going to push this so far.

        • retepslluerb says:

          I don’t think that Russia said that they can’t arrest him, because they don’t have jurisdiction. As  far as I know, transit areas aren’t extra-territorial (a legal fiction, anyway). 

          But as long as he isn’t there illegally, doesn’t do anything illegal (which, by the way, the Pussy Riot members did) , and if there isn’t a extradition treaty between Russia and America – I’ll note that the US still harbors Russian criminals – they would need a strong incentive to arrest him.

          • ChicagoD says:

            I think that technically everything you say is accurate. On the other hand, I have this vague suspicion that I could not fly to Moscow and just hang out at the airport more or less forever.

            In any case, I’m not advocating that Russia arrest him. I think that Russia can’t affirmatively help him. And remember, he doesn’t have a valid U.S. passport, so letting him through passport control would require an affirmative act. I also doubt he has an appropriate visa to enter Russia.

            So, he probably needs to fly out of the airport to a non-Russian destination.

          • retepslluerb says:

            I can assure you that I couldn’t fly to New York and hang around in the transit zone forever. I’m not brown, so they’d probably only kick my ass back to Germany, though.

            That he had to go to Russia is unfortunate, but he didn’t really have much of a chance. China is still wary of loud conflicts and all European nations are basically vassal states right now. With the NSA having lots of blackmail material, be it personal secrets or industrial know how. (Not that this is really surprising, see Echelon and all that.) Russia, otoh, is independent, large, has atomic weapons and thrives o butting heads with the US on these matters.

          • ChicagoD says:

            @retepslluerb:disqus  I agree that he had few options. In fact, so few that some people might be surprised that he didn’t do all of this from Quito instead of HK. Just sayin’.

            As for the Russians loving to butt heads with the U.S. . . . I actually don’t think that is geopolitically accurate. the U.S. and Russia have much more in common security-wise than not. Both are concerned about China, neither wants the Taliban to run Afghanistan, neither wants violent extremism coming out of Central Asia etc. That doesn’t mean the Russians aren’t in a better position than Europe to assert their sovereignty, but it does mean this game of chicken is going to end in face-saving for Russia and the U.S. That is unlikely to be good for Snowden.

        • niktemadur says:

          if he were a member of say, a female punk band, I bet they’d figure out a way to assert jurisdiction

          Nailed it, man.

          • retepslluerb says:

            Err, they HAD jusrisdiction – it happend on Russian ground, the members *did* something illegal and they got arrested and tried in Russia. 

            Considering that the Unites States actually kidnaps people to bring them into their country (if they are nice) or foreign camps under their control (if they want to torture), the comparison is wildly inappropriate. 

  5. Vadym Zakrevskyy says:

    This reminds of “the Terminal” (2004)

  6. ZA_SF says:

    And now he’s a pawn of even more forces beyond his control. Such a fool.

    • SedanChair says:

      It’s OK to exploit nations and nationalism in the fight against secrecy. Putin is not out friend, but he is no less a friend than Obama.

      • Rob says:

         He’s a way bigger friend than Obama.

        • ChicagoD says:

          Ha ha ha ha. Yes. Putin is definitely your good friend.

          Oh my God. A little perspective please. I don’t like some of Obama’s policies either, but Putin is as close to being a Soviet leader as he can be (at the moment). More to come, I’m sure.

          • wysinwyg says:

             He’s much more popular among Russians than Obama is among USians.  Even Russian/former Soviet bloc expats seem to get a little heated when Putin is criticized by my countrymen.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            He also has a massive astroturf apparatus.

        • theophrastvs says:

          really?  just because one end of the spectrum is proving false doesn’t mean that occupying the other end is less so.   better to say something more hackneyed but less silly like:   judging world leaders as ‘friends’ of anyone is to ignore how they got there.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          He’s a way bigger friend than Obama.

          You are an idiot.  Putin has disassembled Russian democracy to make himself leader for life, a position which he is using to destroy all human rights and institutionalize racism, sexism and homophobia under a new alliance of Orthodox Church and State.

    • baronsamedi says:

      We are all pawns of an awful lot of forces beyond our control. Such fools.

  7. Rob says:

     That airport looks better than Denver International… and they have a VIP lounge decorated in what looks like brightly colored childrens furniture, along with a Delegations and Officials lounge, where I assume Snowden is probably hanging out.

    The local Cinnabon does have a bad reputation of serving day old bons tho. thats pretty grim.

  8. awjt says:

    Pics or it didn’t happen. Seriously.

  9. misterbeeg says:

    This is the new “Where’s Waldo.”

  10. LowerHater says:

    Hmmm… fugitive with significant knowledge of the USA’s spying attempts to pass through Moscow and disappears from view for a couple days. He’s in the terminal sure, but no one has seen him. Misses his flight, two days in a row.

    Why isn’t anyone voicing suspicion that he’s being interrogated by his Russian “protectors” out of view. They probably don’t even have to lean on him very hard. Spill everything or we hand you to the Americans and win some brownie points with the States. I find it impossible to believe they would let him pass through without a serious grilling of what he knows.

    The guy can provide the Russians with years worth of criticism-deflection. Any time the Russians get caught or criticized by the USA; they bring up all the dirt Snowden spilled.

    It may not be a coincidence that of the release of details about our spying on Hong Kong and China; seemed closely timed to them letting him go. Maybe some sort of similar deal.

    • Rob says:


      Its important to focus on theories about Snowden’s actions and motivations rather than the US spying on Americans.

      • LowerHater says:

         Maybe its possible to focus on both. I can walk and chew bubblegum.

        One is a thriller, a very public fugitive story where its possible to actually root for the guy. Yes, there is a larger story that has far more serious implications; but its still a gripping story.

        The other is a political story about how far we’ve gone in becoming farce of a liberal democracy. Wholesale invasion of privacy, secret courts, the ability to arrest and detain indefinitely, etc ad nauseum.

      • ChicagoD says:

        Well, there are people who believe that while the crux of his allegations are probably true there is no way he knows or has the authority he claims. I tend to think that the volume of material Manning had access to undercuts the theory that Snowden couldn’t have had access to what he’s claiming, but it is possible that Snowden’s an imperfect vessel for good information.

    • ironmantexas says:

      I think some people just don’t get it. Snowden has released nor admitted to knowing ANYTHING 

    • ironmantexas says:

      Last reply jumped to screen before I finished. Snowden has revealed nor admitted knowing ANYTHING that would be of special interest to the Russia and/or the FSB. They assume NSA and British intelligence are already trying survelil every square millimeter of Russia, every gigahertz of bandwidth, and figure they’ve been about half successful. Snowden was never a “Russia-watcher” at CIA or NSA, probably doesn’t even speak Russian or Mandarin, and is not, I repeat is NOT, a spy by any respectable use of that term. In fact, it’s rather an insult to the hard-working CIA and MI5/MI6 folks and their helpers in Russia to class him as such.

      What Russia and China are laughing about, what is really significant, is how EASY it was for a System Administrator to get everything he did, even from a remote contractor location. This means they will try to bribe or blackmail some other SysAdmin into helping them get real stuff, or they already have. It’s pretty clear Snowden is not one of these types, to walk away from a six-figure salary and a lush life. So he’s not interested in money. If you want money, you go the Zuckerburg route, which in a way, is perhaps a more manipulative use of mass data than even the NSA does–but it is voluntary in a capitalist system.

      Another thing that will register with true data intelligence folks overseas is how centralized the whole USA intel-net is from a management standpoint. It’s a top-down hierarchy that does not at all reflect the true architecture of the internet, nor is it as advanced as the commercial applications used by Google, Facebook and others that we already VOLUNTARILY give our secrets to. 

      The real problem for the USA with Snowden is not that he will reveal some magical secret mantram, wiz-bang-equipment or method we use–those require years of REAL engineering from people much smarter than he is (though he is pretty damn smart, moreso than media indicates). It’s just that he makes them (political leaders and espiocrats) look like fools, and shows the real deficiencies in American intel-gathering methods. Ask anyone in British Intelligence, or the FSB, or in China, and they all will tell you America is the easiest country to spy upon in the history of the world. We have the worst security: during WWII, during the Cold War, and now in the Terror War. We exchange information so freely here, it is so much a part of our culture, that keeping a secret just isn’t in our nature. We are the softest target imaginable, in terms of government and the average citizen. By all the standards of the rest of the world, America is the “Great Exhibitionist.” We LIKE to be naked to strangers!

      But that is also why we won WWII, The Cold War, the techno-internet-war, etc., because of this freedom. As the saying goes, American could give away ten times more secrets that it does and still have ten times more than the rest of the world combined. That may not always be true and may decline later in the 21st century, but right now our economy still generates so much creativity. Fortunately, nothing the NSA can do will stop that. They can only waste taxpayer money on redundant, unproductive, top-down hierarchies, the kind that served IBM well in 1970, but even IBM knows are worthless now. Now if they spent all that money on internet ADVERTISING and educational campaigns to influence world opinion, they would get a lot more bang for their gigabuck. I always thought gaming casinos (or maybe just “electronic gaming” in Arabic) would have been a better investment to bring down Saddam Hussein in Iraq than a $3 trillion war.

      America is based on decentralization, the first large government ever so designed as found in the FEDERALIST PAPERS centuries ago. We also invented the first decentralized wide-area network, the Internet. No single organization with a top-down management style (and NSA is run by the most top-down, power-centered General in the military) can ever be a threat to a free, decentralized system, the kind of “rational anarchy” as envisioned by Jefferson and the best SF writers (Cory included).

      Again, if you are a true techie, or a great SF writer like Cory, you knew by the 1990s that everything we did electronically was being recorded. And that it did not matter that much, just as Corey has told us if 10,000 people download his latest novel illegally, it will just lead to 100,000 people eventually buying it. 

      It’s fun to watch Snowden, finally a reality TV star and celebrity gossip hero (or perhaps even antihero, whom are often more compelling, e.g., Han Solo) for us geeks, like THE BIG BANG THEORY meets THE KARDASHIANS. 

      Trust me, SysAdmins, SysArchitects and WAN Network engineers in America and worldwide are getting the biggest laughs of their lives, seeing how political leaders are clueless to the real issues.

  11. austinhamman says:

    didn’t wikileaks already say snowden ISN’T in russia.
    with the way the world is, sadly, i trust wikileaks more than anyone in power.
    personally: i think putin is bluffing. i think he is pulling the “he’s here and you can’t have him” just to gain some political advantage over the US, just like china, and probably about anyone who take snowden in.
    course snowden is no victim in this, he’s been playing the game too (as sick a game it may be) he has released key pieces of information to make the country he is in, or going to be in, a little less willing to extradite him (imagine the US saying “hand over snowden, he told how we have been spying on you” to the chinese.)  his latest bit of misdirection was nice, well played.
    i don’t know where he is, but im doubting he is in russia.

    • awjt says:

      I am doubting this, too.  How hard would it be, if you were a Russian news bureau, to send a team into, or to the line on the floor of, or to the windows of the International Transit Area?  Or hand a point and shoot camera to a worker and say, “Go in there and take us a picture of Edward Snowden, bring us back the camera with him on it, and we will hand you this stack of cash.”  I mean, we have not seen any evidence of this dude milling around in there.  Maybe we will, but I am still seriously doubting he is there.  I am betting he took off yesterday.  I still think he hitched up with the Ecuadorian ministry and is on his way.  But what do I know.  I’m armchairing.  We will have to just wait and SEE.  Like literally see the guy.

    • bcsizemo says:

      I’m pretty much along the same lines.  It doesn’t matter if he is or isn’t in Russia, Putin is going to play that hand just because it’ll piss off the US and there isn’t much they can do about it. 

  12. Navin_Johnson says:

    “This is like shearing a pig, lots of squealing and very little fur”
    -Putin on this situation.


  13. 2eurocents says:

    You people really need some reading comprehension lessons. Lavrov and Putin said the exact same thing. The feller’s in the airport’s transit zone, therefore not formally on Russian soil.

  14. Eric Hunting says:

    I’m looking forward to the Snowdon episodes of the Putin Pals. They should be fun. 

    Also, if it looks like he’s going to be there a while, perhaps we could all pitch in to help him get one to a few of those Sleepbox cabin pod units to live in there. I understand they’re already in use in Moscow and they could be quite comfortable. (google Sleepbox Hotel Tverskya) 

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