“Jason Bourne, eat your heart out,” said Pepe Escobar in the Asia Times (Hong Kong). American whistle-blower Edward Snowden has proved a master spy with his “meticulously timed operation.” First, he revealed to The Guardian the NSA’s massive global surveillance program that sweeps up communications from Americans and non-Americans alike. Then he went underground in Hong Kong to prepare his escape, “as he knew Washington would come after him with all guns (drones?) blazing.” Then Snowden unveiled another massive leak, to the South China Morning Post, detailing how the U.S. hacks into Chinese computers with abandon. An enraged Washington canceled his passport, but by that time he was on a plane to Moscow and beyond reach. He even tricked the world press into thinking he was on a flight to Ecuador by way of Havana. When the plane left this week, it was packed with journalists, but Snowden was still at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow. A video of his empty plane seat became a YouTube sensation in Russia.
Hong Kong handled the affair just right, said the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong). Chinese authorities “were secretly pleased that the hypocrisy of U.S. claims of Beijing’s cyberspying had come home to roost.” But to actually give Snowden political asylum would “jeopardize diplomatic gains.” Fortunately, the Hong Kong administration finessed the situation by requesting more information from the U.S. before it could issue a warrant—a request that bought Snowden time to hop that flight to Moscow. He’s left us with plenty to think about, said Ming Jinwei in Xinhua(China). Thanks to him, we now have proof that the U.S., “which has long been trying to play innocent as a victim of cyberattacks, has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age.” Washington has been trying to paint China as some kind of dastardly cyberfiend, an accusation that figured prominently in the recent summit between Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama. So much for that claim.
Now the Americans are scapegoating Russia as well, said Yelena Chinkova in Komsomol-skaya Pravda (Russia). Washington demanded that Russia extradite the fugitive, a request President Vladimir Putin called “ravings and rubbish.” He coolly pointed out that since Snowden never left the airport, he’s simply a passenger in transit. The incident has left U.S. lawmakers sputtering in outrage. “Putin always seems eager to put a finger in the eye of the U.S.,” said Sen. Charles Schumer. Sen. Lindsey Graham, for his part, warned that the U.S. would “show Russia its actions won’t go unpunished.”
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Ecuador isn’t afraid of American retaliation, said La Hora (Ecuador) in an editorial. We gave asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and we’ll probably do the same for Snowden. Assange says he’s helped Snowden arrange passage here. This is a reason for national pride. “There are some governments that act more upon their own interests, but we do not,” said Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. “We act upon our principles.”
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