LAMBRO: The foolish wager of Edward Snowden

The WikiLeaks hero is stuck in legal limbo

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Fugitive Edward Snowden, wanted on charges of espionage against his own country, is caught in a trap of his own making.

He finds himself stranded in a Moscow airport where he’s been promised political asylum by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who says he will never turn Mr. Snowden over to the United States to stand trial on criminal charges of exposing national security secrets to our enemies.

Russia has never given up anyone to anybody and does not plan to,” Mr. Putin said this week.

However, the former Soviet KGB agent’s offer of a safe haven comes with one condition: “If he wants to stay here … he must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips,” he told reporters at a gas exporters’ conference in Moscow on Monday.

It sounds more than strange from the lips of a man who ruthlessly rules Russia with an iron hand, crushing his political opponents and imprisoning people who dare to criticize his autocratic government, which has led Russia back into a dark era of political corruption, skullduggery and fear.

It is more than likely that the Russians have debriefed and interrogated Mr. Snowden by now, and no doubt made him enticing offers of asylum that they hoped he could not refuse. Many secrets could still be hidden in his laptop, but can anyone really believe Mr. Putin’s intelligence apparatchiks have not seen them?

There are those who suspect that Mr. Snowden is or was a Russian agent who sought jobs in the CIA and the National Security Agency, which ran Prism, the telecom surveillance program he exposed to the world.

Mr. Putin flatly denied that again Monday. “As for Mr. Snowden, he is not our agent, and he is not working with us,” he insisted. Sure.

Mr. Snowden has been in Moscow for nine days in a transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, plotting his next move, even as he declares that he would not accept any demand by Mr. Putin or anyone else that he stop revealing more secrets about U.S. intelligence activities.

U.S. intelligence officials here think that Mr. Snowden has a large cache of information about American surveillance programs that he intends to reveal over the coming weeks and months in an effort to further damage U.S. security on the international stage.

In a letter to Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, seen by the Reuters news agency Monday, Mr. Snowden complains he is being wrongly persecuted by the United States for revealing its surveillance methods, but says he will not be silenced.

“I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest,” he wrote in a bizarre, delusional, far-left manifesto of his larger, long-term goals.

“No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world,” he wrote in an appeal to Mr. Correa, the leftist leader who has launched his own campaign against the right of a free press to criticize his administration.

At times, Mr. Snowden’s self-serving writings veer off into the psychotic, accusing the United States of unfairly conducting “an extrajudicial manhunt costing me, my family, my freedom to travel, and my right to live peacefully without fear of illegal aggression.”

In a statement released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, Mr. Snowden said the Obama administration had used tactics that had turned him into “a stateless person.”

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