Whistleblower Edward Snowden has become an important figure for freedom in American politics. With the wide range of leaks, we now have a clearer picture of the extent of Orwellian activity by the U.S. government. The government illegally intercepts data, accesses personal accounts, and tracks location data of innocent Americans, among other things.
With all of this said, Snowden is still a controversial figure in American politics.
When the leaks came, he sought to escape the wrath of the government by going to Hong Kong. From there, he stopped in Russia on this way to Ecuador to seek asylum. The government revoked his passport however, leaving him stuck in Russia. This works for the government because they could allow Snowden to be portrayed as a Russian agent who has committed treason against the United States.
This is exactly what many in the American political mainstream and elite politicians claim.
But is the whistleblower a traitor? Did Snowden flee to Russia to sell out the United States?
Recently, the lower house of the Russian legislative body approved the final drafts of several anti-terrorist legislation laws. It would appear that like in the United States, Russia is using the fear of terrorism to push oppressive and Orwellian legislation. After the State Duma’s approval, the Federation Council must approve before going to Vladimir Putin’s desk.
Among the legislative proposals, is a prison sentence for failing to report a criminal act. Under the proposal, failure to report a possible terrorist attack or armed rebellion could land a Russian citizen up to a year in prison. There are also a number of other offenses that would require reporting to the government, as well.
Inciting or even approving of terrorism online could land a Russian up to seven years in prison. In order to qualify for missionary work, one would have to be affiliated with an official group and is limited to designated areas. Failure to cooperate with the proposed missionary laws would result in a fine of up to a million rubles. Punishments for involvement with extremism would change to an eight year maximum prison sentence and a minimum of three. Any involvement with the inciting or planning unrest would carry a maximum of ten years in prison and a minimum of five. Criminal liability for fourteen years would expand, applying terrorism laws and some of the new proposals to them as well.
International terrorism even gets some attention from the legislation, with a maximum of a lifetime prison sentence for involvement with any acts against Russian citizens.
Phone and internet companies would be required to store phone calls for six months and data for up to three years, while organizers of online information would only have to store it for a year. Any service using encryption would be required to help Federal Security Service decipher anything sent by users and failure to cooperate would result in a fine of up to a million rubles.
The postal service and private shipping companies would be required to inspect packages and report any banned items. Failure to do so results in punishment for the service or companies.
How did Edward Snowden, supposed Russian agent and traitor to the United States, respond?
With outrage. In a series of tweets, Snowden ripped the proposed legislation as being “unworkable, unjustifiable violation of rights that should never be signed” and it “will take money and liberty from every Russian without improving safety.” He also quoted a Russian article that quoted a Duma member that stated many opposed the proposals, but voted “yes” out of fear.
This seems to contradict the propaganda of critics. Snowden has shown time and time again that his concern lies with big government and loyalties lie with freedom. Intrusive government has become worse with years and like with communism during the Cold War, terrorism is now being used to crush liberty. Whether it be in the United States or Russia, Snowden is firm on his opposition to tyranny.