Edward Snowden: a man without a country trapped in a bureaucratic no-man’s land

The latest turn in the increasingly kafka-esque saga of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden is that he is hidden somewhere in Moscow’s Sheremotyo’s Terminal E, according to the Financial Times: 

‘With a design style reminiscent of the Startship Enterprise crossed with  dentist’s waiting room, the hotel offers clean towel and a standard shower to long-haul travellers who do not want to spend their time shopping for Swarovski crystals and designer cologne.’

In short, this is the only place it is possible for Snowden to be hiding. He is now effectively a man without a country, and every where he goes there is an increasingly likelihood that he will be extradited to the US for espionage charges, sharing a similar fate to similar whistle-blowers Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. He may be living like the man who inspired the film the Terminal, based on the story of Alfred Mehran Karimi Nasseri. Due to a complex mix-up with papers he was forced to spend 20 years in an airport, living in a limbo because he had nowhere else to go. In short, his home was the airport, because legally he was not able to pass the immigration to leave the terminal. He was forced to sleep on a concrete bench and had to scrounge food from the bins of the business lounge and broke into the showers at night. Yet life was better for him inside the airport where he became a celebrity than it would have been outside.

It is unlikely that Snowden will ever enjoy the sort of anonymity he has been used to. If he goes to the US he will likely spend time in little more than a eight by 6ft room cell, similar to wear he is staying currently. The choice that is also facing Assange, whether to face justice or spend time living in an ever decreasing room akin to a walk-in closet with a shower may not be a pleasant one but is the only one he has.

To some he is a hero, yet his supporters will never be able to provide the kind of privacy and anonymity he needs. For the sake of our freedom he has sacrificed his own. No doubt he will be spending his time wondering whether it has all been worth it.

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